Haitian-American Police Officer Omar Smith was on patrol, keeping everything under control in Brooklyn Heights on Sunday afternoon with throngs of book lovers coming and going from the Brooklyn Book Festival’s largest venue, St. Ann & The Holy Trinity Church.
Bringing up the rear of the long line of fans who had just had their books signed, Smith approached author Edwidge Danticat, who had also just read a selection of her work with other Best of Brooklyn, Inc. Bobi Award winners Paul Auster and Pete Hamill. Officer Smith had kind words for Danticat; he is a fan of hers, too.
It was a crisp and sunny, perfect autumn day greeting Brooklynites and other bibliophiles who were attending the seventh annual Brooklyn Book Festival held at Brooklyn Borough Hall and plaza and nearby sites.
Strollers and book addicts alike snaked their way through the walkways of vendor stalls, buying books, visiting publishers, and meeting various independent book store owners and members of literary organizations and book societies. Food trucks at the far end of the plaza provided sustenance.
Many self-published authors used this opportunity to expose their work to a larger audience like Queens-resident, Carmen Uter, who displayed her book, “The Gechee Lady,” the story of a wizened older woman, born in 1885 on one of the Georgia Sea Islands, and her relationship with a young woman in Harlem in the 50s and 60s.
The festival, one of Brooklyn’s best annual events, brings together best selling, emerging and self-published authors. Famed journalists, new novelists, and award winning writers spoke at the myriad of panels and workshops – more than 100, held in 14 nearby venues.
This year, the Sunday festival culminated a week of related events held around Brooklyn.
Crowds were attracted to deep literary discussions and witty conversations by or about public personalities.
Even Borough President Marty Markowitz got into the action by interviewing Brooklyn-born actor Tony Danza who wrote the book “I’d Like to Apologize to Every Teacher I Ever Had,” about the time out he took to teach high school in Philadelphia.
Daughter of musician Woody Guthrie, Nora Guthrie in conversation with author Robert Santelli (This Land Is Your Land: Woody Guthrie) kept a standing-room only, outdoor panel entertained with inside family anecdotes of her famous father.
Literary lions Walter Mosley, known for his crime fiction, Haitian author Edwidge Danticat and edgy best-seller Dennis Lehane engaged a packed hall while discussing character development and the creative process.
This year’s Best of Brooklyn, Inc. Bobi Award winner was veteran journalist and novelist Pete Hamill. Hamill has authored 18 books including “A Drinking Life” and also had served as editor-in-chief of the New York Post and the New York Daily News.
The festival is an initiative of the Borough President’s office and Brooklyn Tourism, and organized with the Brooklyn Literary Council.