Monday, April 30, 2018

2018 Bay Area Book Festival in downtown Berkeley, California!

This past weekend was the 4th annual Bay Area Book Festival! I love this annual event and have attended it each year since its inception in 2015. It's my favorite annual book related event, which I look forward to attending with relish each year. Usually, this annual event is held the first weekend in June, but this year it was moved to the last weekend in April.

This year, 250 authors were speaking at the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival!! Gotta love the free outdoor fair with 200 literary exhibitors (bookstores, publishers, authors), food trucks, and family fun zone with activities for kids.

I had planned to attend the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival both Saturday, April 28th and Sunday, April 29th as each day was filled with excellent author speaking and signing events I wanted to attended.

Unfortunately, for me, I missed Day 2 of the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival due to unexpected circumstances, which was a complete disappointment to me as I had looked forward to attending both days. Additionally, I looked forward walking around the rest of the outdoor 2018 Bay Area Book Festival itself as there were so many vendors and other activities to enjoy as well.

I will focus this post on what my husband and I enjoyed while attending Day 1 of the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival on Saturday, April 28th.

First of all, my husband and I took BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) into downtown Berkeley to avoid the traffic and parking issues involved with large crowds of people attending this wildly popular literary event.

The first author speaker event my husband and I attended on Saturday, April 28, 2018, was to hear Kenyan writer, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o interviewed by Namwali Serpell from 11:45am to 1pm. The title of the talk was Wrestling with the Devil: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o in Conversation:
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o is one of the world’s most prominent African writers working today, often on the radar for the Nobel Prize. He joins us to discuss the American release of “Wrestling with the Devil: A Prison Memoir.” In 1977, he was imprisoned by the Kenyan government in a maximum security facility because of his artistic defiance of a regime. In prison, he penned a novel—on toilet paper, the only paper to which he had access—that would become his classic, “Devil on the Cross.” He will discuss the prison experience, challenges of writing fiction under twenty-four-hour surveillance, and the spirit of defiance that defines hope. He testifies to the power of imagination to help humans break free of confinement, the story of all art. It is an honor to welcome him to Berkeley.
It was an honor to hear Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o speak at the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival. He had a lot of enlightening things to say/share with audience attending his speaking event. Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's thoughts on the importance of imagination was one of the most interesting topics he spoke about during his speaking event on Saturday afternoon.

I was able to have Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o sign a copy of his novel, Petals of Blood, for me. I love languages, so it was totally cool that he wrote the word for 'peace' in his native language for me along with his signature.
Me with Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o at the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival
I've had the novel The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen on my list of books to be read but have yet to read this novel... I guess that's going to have to change! Anyway, Viet Thanh Nguyen spoke at the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival about Art and Politics. He was interviewed by Karen Tei Yamashita.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize in 2016 for his novel “The Sympathizer,” Viet Thanh Nguyen—fiction writer, essayist, activist, and UC Berkeley doctoral alum—has become an outspoken voice for refugee rights and justice for immigrants. In 2017 he received a MacArthur Genius Grant, and while he was commended for “challenging popular depictions of the Vietnam War and exploring the myriad ways that war lives on for those it has displaced,” his latest efforts move outward to the plight of refugees across the world. His lauded story collection “The Refugees” explores immigration, identity, love, and family. His latest project, “The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives,” brings together a host of prominent writers. He joins us to today to talk with Karen Tei Yamashita, novelist and essayist on the immigrant experience, about the role of the writer in society, the importance of art to politics, and the power of the written word.
I really enjoyed briefly meeting Viet Thanh Nguyen! I think it is cool that Viet Thanh Nguyen is back in Berkeley, California for the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival as he earned both his undergraduate and graduate degress from UC Berekeley and now teaches at USC!
Me with Viet Thanh Nguyen after he signed my copy of The Sympathizer.
The last speaker of the day that we heard was young adult author, Melissa de la Cruz from 3:15pm to 4:30pm! She was interviewed by Jessica Lee. I became aware of Melissa de la Cruz in the past few months through another book blogger, who really enjoys Melissa de la Cruz's Blue Bloods series. I decided that I would like to read one of Melissa de la Cruz's novels, but selecting which novel was a tough decision as Ms. de la Cruz has published 46 novels and writes various genres (historical, fantasy, etc.) within the young adult genre. Suffice it to say that Melissa de la Cruz is a very versatile writer! I ended up with Melissa de la Cruz's stand alone young adult novel, Something In Between. Melissa de la Cruz was an awesome speaker to hear talk about her writing. I was actually surprised that more people were not in attendance to hear her speak at the Bay Area Book Festival. I also had fun practicing my limited knowledge of Tagalog on Melissa de la Cruz while she was signing my book!

Me with author, Melissa de la Cruz!
In between author talks and signings, my husband and I were able to walk through part of the outdoor fair at the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival. We enjoyed eating lunch outdoors despite the cooler, windy weather with partly sunny, partly cloudy skies. It alternated being too cold or just right in terms of the outdoor temperature. 

We also enjoyed speaking with other book festival attendees too during our time at the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival. All in all, we had a great day at the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival on Saturday, April 28th!

Sadly, I missed out on hearing Joyce Carol Oates, Meg Elison, Viv Alberine, and Lidia Yuknavitch speak on Sunday, April 29, 2018! I'd really wanted to hear all four women speak at this amazing event and have them sign copies of their books for me. But alas, I guess it wasn't meant to be!


  1. That's so cool that you were able to make it to the festival (even if you did have to miss a day)! I haven't been able to go to any book festivals yet (somehow they're all on weekends that I can't make it!) but I'm hoping this year will be the year.

    Laura @BlueEyeBooks

    1. Keeping fingers crossed that you'll make it to a book festival this year!! They are so much fun and are a great way to meet other avid readers/fans.

  2. Too bad you had to miss the second day. I know you were quite excited to see Lidia Yuknavitch. But you did get one full day. I completely missed the LA Times Festival of Books this year due to a bad back that weekend. Book festivals are the best fun!

    1. Yes, book festivals are the best, no doubt about it!

      Too bad you missed the LA Book Festival this year... I always wanted to attended it when we lived in SoCal, but never quite made it there for one reason or another.

  3. That is so cool! Even though you only got to go one day, all that matters is that you had fun! I'm insane jealous that you got a signed copy from her! I hope one day I can get one too.