Readers rejoice: Bay Area Book Festival to open in Berkeley

A new book festival will make its debut in downtown Berkeley in June. The Bay Area Book Festival, set to take place June 6 and 7, is a free event and will feature more than 300 authors, as well as panels, performances and public art displays at Civic Center Park and surrounding indoor and outdoor spaces, including the Berkeley Community Theatre and the Berkeley Public Library. Here’s a map of the festival’s locations.

Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and UC Berkeley faculty are lending key support to the event, the reason Cherilyn Parsons, the festival’s founder and executive director, says she chose Berkeley as the festival’s location.

Judy Blume

Judy Blume is among the 300 authors to speak at the Bay Area Book Festival. In addition to writing novels for children and young adults, she has published three adult novels, all of them New York Times bestsellers.

Parsons says the festival will allow people to share their love of books and will celebrate the Bay Area’s rich literary offerings, encourage reading by young people and provide activities and author appearances for fans of all ages.

Popular children’s author Judy Blume, who wrote Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Just As Long As We’re Together, will speak on Saturday, June 6, at the Berkeley Community Theatre.

Other highlights include conversations and interviews with authors Paolo Bacigalupi, Michael Chabon, Peter Coyote, Daniel Handler, Pico Iyer, Kim Stanley Robinson, Rebecca Solnit and the Icelandic novelist Sjón; Lauren Oliver on the Teen Stage; Mac Barnett regaling kids on the Children’s Stage; and Cal Peternell, head chef at Chez Panisse, on a panel on the joys, perils and practicalities of writing cookbooks.

Waldo Martin

Waldo Martin is a history professor at UC Berkeley. He is the author of ‘A Change is Gonna Come: Black Movement, Culture, and the Transformation of America 1945-1975’ and ‘The Mind of Frederick Douglass.’

The festival will also include an interactive public art installation, called Lacuna, constructed of 50,000 books that evolves as books are removed. “It’s a wonderfully fun and collaborative project that everyone can participate in,” said Victoria Rojas, the festival’s public art manager.

In addition, many Berkeley faculty will be speaking at the two-day event, including dean Ed Wasserman, Mark Danner and Adam Hochschild of the Graduate School of Journalism, along with Orville Schell, former dean of the school; Robert Hass, a poetry professor and former U.S. poet laureate; professors Arlie Hochschild, Waldo Martin, Linda Rugg and Scott Saul; and lecturer Aya de León.

Parsons says she sees the Bay Area Book Festival becoming an annual event that will continue to grow. “The Bay Area is a global hub,” she says. “We’re becoming one of the nation’s most international literary festivals. Get ready for a fabulous journey.”

The San Francisco Chronicle is the festival’s major media sponsor. Other collaborators and partners include the city of Berkeley, Google, GoodReads, the Berkeley Public Library, WriterCoach Connection, Raising a Reader and the East Bay Children’s Book Project.

For more information about the Bay Area Book Festival, including a complete list of authors and speakers and event schedule, visit the festival’s website. For updates and photos, visit the event’s Facebook page or follow it on Twitter @BayBookfest.