October Fuse Pick: Boston Book Festival

by Bill Marx

9780307266767The Boston Book Festival, which kicks off its existence this Saturday, is an inevitability that for some puzzling reason wasn’t a reality. Boston is a determinedly readerish town, yet it is the only one of America’s major cities that doesn’t have a book festival.

Thankfully, BBF organizer Deborah Z. Porter remedies the situation this coming Saturday, October 24th, in Copley Square. (The Bostonist features an informative interview with the ringmaster.) Over ninety writers will be in town. The panels will include “Documenting History,” featuring PBS’s Ken Burns in the line-up, and “Ties That Bind,” a confab about the family during which Richard Russo will talk about his new novel “That Old Cape Magic.” Nicholas Negroponte will explore his One Laptop Per Child project; digital librarian Brewster Kahle and Google’s Jon Orwant will take on the thorny issue of the impact of ebooks on reading.

For me, the standout event on Saturday will feature Orhan Pamuk, winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for literature, who will no doubt offer some insights into his recently published book “The Museum of Innocence,” which he has already intriguingly referred to during his Norton Lectures at Harvard University. Three more of the lectures in the series remain: “Pictures and Things” (Oct. 20); “Museums and Novels” (Oct. 26); and “The Center” (Nov. 3).

As an avid enthusiast for international literature it would be nice if the BBF went a little more global next year – maybe a panel on translation or more representatives of letters from around the world. But even in its babyhood the BBF looks confidently snappy and savvy.

The inaugural Boston Book Festival takes place in Copley Square this Saturday, October 24. A launch party called “Boston Out Loud” will be held at Trinity Church on Friday the 23rd. Many of the Book Festival events are free, but some are ticketed — so be warned.

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