Berkeley, CA – May 7 & 8, 2022

Anyone who says literature is a solitary pursuit hasn’t seen the Bay Area Book Festival the way it was meant to be experienced: in person. Our eighth annual fest will bring back that literary magic for the first time since 2019!

Come meet some of the most perceptive, spellbinding, lauded authors and thinkers of today. Yes, you can also get your books signed! Here’s just a small taste of what’s ahead:

Discover nature’s secret wonders

Mega author Kim Stanley Robinson will present his spectacular new book, The High Sierra: A Love Story, in a multimedia extravaganza with breathtaking photos and footage. You may know Robinson as “one of our greatest living science fiction writers” (The New Yorker) and as an environmentalist whose latest bestseller, The Ministry for the Future, was one of Barack Obama’s favorite books of the year. Now come take one of the most incredible hikes of your life into his favorite mountains. These photos and words are the next best thing to actually being there.

Robinson isn’t the only outdoor adventurer you’ll be hearing from. In a conversation we’re calling “Women in the Wild,” avid climber Lauren DeLaunay Miller (Valley of Giants: Stories from Women at the Heart of Yosemite Climbing) and mountaineer Silvia Vasquez-Lovado, author of The Shadow of the Mountain and the first openly lesbian woman to complete the Seven Summits (the tallest peaks on each continent), will lift us up with their grit, courage, and vision.

Heyday Books’ Alex Harris (The Birds of Lake Merritt) and Jack Gedney (The Private Lives of Public Birds) will show us what’s not-so-ordinary about our most familiar feathered friends.

And for a super-close view of nature, join us for a field trip led by Heyday’s Obi Kaufmann, author of the hugely bestselling California Field Guide and forthcoming The Coasts of California. The tour includes the new book, which is the latest installment of Kaufmann’s multi-volume exploration of California nature.

Back at the ranch (aka festival), Kaufmann will join Greg Sarris, Chairman of the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria and author of the “fascinating and evocative” (Kirkus) forthcoming memoir Becoming Story: A Journey Among Seasons, Places, Trees, and Ancestors. These two visionary Heyday authors will give us an eye-opening view of the past, present, and future of California, while discussing indigenous practices for protecting its natural treasures.

Light your creative fire with today’s top novelists

Just as John Steinbeck was the scribe of the central coast, National Book Award finalist Susan Straight carries that mantle for inland Southern California with her new novel, Mecca, which Walter Mosley called “a hymn to all that have called the Golden State home.”

From California canyons to Scottish council estates: Douglas Stuart returns to the festival after his Booker Prize-winning debut, Shuggie Bain, with a much-anticipated new novel, Young Mungo, a coming-of-age tale of two working-class young men falling hopelessly, beautifully in love.

Other leading literary voices including blockbuster Booker finalist Karen Joy Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club, We are All Completely Beside Ourselves), the nationally bestselling Carol Edgarian, and the award-winning Shruti Swamy. Welcome to conversations on female ambition, crafting historical fiction, writing the body, and more.

Rekindle your inner revolutionary 

Did you know that 1984 author George Orwell had a passion for cultivating roses? With Orwell’s Roses, the brilliant Rebecca Solnit reveals how Orwell’s activist zeal was actually grounded in his love for growing beautiful things in the earth. In a conversation with Geeta Anand, dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Solnit will show us how true justice and equity requires resources not only for the body, but for the mind and soul: in the words of the U.S. labor and women’s suffrage movements, “Give us Bread, but give us Roses.”

David Talbot, best-selling historian and journalist (his history of San Francisco, Season of the Witch, is a modern classic) joins his sister, New Yorker staff writer Margaret Talbot, to discuss their new history By the Light of Burning Dreams: The Triumphs and Tragedies of the Second American Revolution, a pulse-racing look at the iconoclasts of the 20th century radical activist movement: from the Black Panthers to the United Farm Workers, and more. With Berkeley’s own revolutionary hell-raiser Judy Gumbo, author of Yippie Girl: Exploits in Protest and Defeating the FBI and one of three female members of the famous Yippies countercultural group of the 60s, they’ll give us a blueprint for making good trouble at a time when our rights, freedom of expression, and democracy are increasingly under siege.

When Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale first met at Oakland’s Merritt College in 1966, history was made. They formed the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and ended up rocking the world with a revolutionary vision whose legacy still burns bright. Four award-winning young-adult authors–Kekla Magoon, Jetta Martin and Waldo Martin, Jr., and David F. Walker—will show a new generation of middle-graders and teens the roots of this home-grown, human-rights revolution born in their own East Bay community.

Speaking of homegrown revolution: Eliza Reid (a Canadian author who met the love of her life at Oxford University and, in a fairytale twist, became the First Lady of Iceland) will inspire us with The Secrets of the Sprakkar, a fascinating account of the extraordinary women of her adopted country and how they’re transforming the world for the better.

Titillate your brain and tease your senses

The unfailingly hilarious polymath Geoff Dyer joins us with one of his funniest and most profound books yet, The Last Days of Roger Federer and Other Endings–which, despite its title, isn’t really (or only) about tennis, but about mortality. In conversation with David Thomson, author of the darkly comic Disaster, Mon Amour, Dyer will explore the last days and last works of writers, painters, athletes, and musicians who’ve mattered to him most.

Another fiercely intelligent essayist, Aminatta Forna, is joining us with The Window Seat: Notes from a Life in Motion, a haunting collection examining displacement, the meaning of home, and memory. One critic called it “the perfect post-pandemic read” for this uniquely displaced moment in time.

Another book perfectly suited to the cultural moment we’re in is award-winning poet Paisley Rekdal’s Appropriate: A Provocation. It’s a layered and rigorous examination of the escalating debate around literary appropriation and the ownership of stories, and we can’t wait to hear her unpack its insights.

In conversation with prolific film critic and historian David Thomson, the acclaimed Slate movie critic Dana Stevens will take you into the world of silent-film icon/genius Buster Keaton. Her joyous cultural history, Camera Man, will be brought to you in larger-than-life glory, speaking directly to the part of your soul that never forgot how to play. With film clips!

National Book Award finalist Douglas Kearney isn’t just a poet: he’s a librettist, a spoken word performer, an all-around disruptor and reinventor of word and verse – “a sonic genius,” says New York Times poetry editor Victoria Chang. Like the 21st-century equivalent of Ginsberg performing Howl for the first time, he’ll turn all preexisting notions of poetry upside down.

And speaking of poet Victoria Chang, one of the most celebrated and formally innovative contemporary poets of our time: she’s joining us too, talking experiments in poetic form with Claire-Louise Bennett and Pik-Shuen Fung. If you’re fascinated by how poets can pull off overpowering emotion and deep meaning by breaking all the rules (or making their own), this conversation’s for you.

L. John Harris is a Berkeley legend and true Renaissance man: a cookbook author who has worked at some of Berkeley’s most iconic culinary mainstays, including Chez Panisse; a music aficionado whose classical guitar collection is world-famous; owner of Villa Maybeck; and a self-described flâneur. His My Little Plague Journal, filled with witty texts, whimsical illustrations, and photos, gives an unforgettable–and weirdly magical–glimpse of a Covid year in our singular little corner of the world.

Keep a little mystery (and romance) alive with today’s biggest bestsellers

Whether you’re a romance fan or not, novelist Jasmine Guillory, regular Today Show contributor (you may have caught her chatting with Hoda and Jenna about her favorite reads and her six-time climb to the top of the bestsellers’ lists) will make you a believer in the genre. Think whip-smart repartee, not ripped bodices.

It’s another banner year for you mystery, noir, and thriller fans. If you secretly love the feeling of your blood running cold, get ready to see Laurie R. King, internationally best-selling Mystery Writers of America 2022 Grand Master; Tod Goldberg, author of the mega-popular Burn Notice series, with an exciting new collection of stories, The Low Desert; and some powerhouse Nordic noir superstars, including Thomas Enger and Carin Gerhardsen–so far!

And if you prefer your suspense and intrigue drawn directly from life, don’t miss legendary cold-case investigator Paul Holes, who you might remember from one of the most famous recent cases he helped to solve: that of the Golden State Killer. He’ll be discussing Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases, on a fascinating panel with novelist Tod Goldberg and Los Angeles Times journalist Jessica Garrison (her investigative nonfiction book The Devil’s Harvest was called “damn scary” by Michael Connelly.)

Make It a Mother’s Day to Remember Forever

On Sunday (yes, Mother’s Day!) enjoy these soul-warming and inspiring conversations, perfect for experiencing with Mom…or, for that matter, with any caretaker, guiding light, mentor/mentee, or muse in your life.

Frances Moore Lappé (author of the three-million-copies-sold Diet for a Small Planet) will be sharing the stage with her daughter, sustainable food expert Anna Lappé, for a heartfelt conversation about lineage, legacies, and how we feed and nourish each other, body and soul.

A multi-genre trio of outstanding writers—Chloé Cooper Jones, Jazmina Barrera, and Jokha Alharthi—will gather to explore how the role of motherhood can transform us, impacting our psyches, bodies, identity, ambition, visions of the future, and so much more.

In a candid and cathartic conversation presented by Collective Book Studio, MOMGUL podcast host Raquel Kelley, San Francisco schoolteacher and author Meredith Rose Essalat, therapist Kaitlin Soulé, who specializes in maternal mental health, and Josephine Wai Lin (Whoever You Are: A Baby Book on Love & Gender) will bring it all out in the open: the struggles, joys, complexities, hopes, and fears of nurturing and educating the next generation.

Stayed tuned, when our full schedule drops, for several more programs that are part of our robust Mother’s Day “track!”

A Garden of Delights for Kids, Middle-graders and Teens

We have so many treats for the whole family to enjoy this year. Including…

A hands-on gardening presentation and picture-book reading with JaNay Brown-Wood, author of the delightful four-book Where in the Garden series for young readers; and master gardener, horticulturist, and rare-plant aficionado Rizaniño “Riz” Reyes, founder of RHR Horticulture.

The beloved, Grammy-nominated Alphabet Rockers are joining us again, and the joy and exuberance they bring will be music to everyone’s ears.

We’ll be celebrating a century of life-changing literature for young readers with the 100th anniversary of the Newbery Medal, on a panel featuring recent honorees: Donna Barba Higuera (the 2022 winner for The Last Cuentista) and Tae Keller (whose When You Trap a Tiger won in 2021).

The amazing young women of Cinnamongirl will be joining us again, moderating panels and interviewing authors with their usual flair, depth, and refreshing point of view (these girls will run the world someday…and we should all be so lucky.)

And the talent at Cinnamongirl doesn’t stop there…in addition to being stellar interviewers, many of these young women are writers in their own right. Taking the stage this year is the 2022 cohort of Cinnamongirl’s Write Your Story project: featuring original creative writing by aspiring scribes ages 12 to 18, performed with the published authors (all brilliant women writers of color) who have mentored and inspired them over the past several months.

We’re also thrilled to showcase another year of the awe-inspiring Graton Writing Project in partnership with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, featuring a new generation of young American Indian literary stars-in-the-making.

And so much more…

Full Schedule and Tickets go Live April 8th

we can’t wait to see you soon