Robert Lasner noticed a lack of book festivals in New Jersey when he and his family moved here from Brooklyn in 2015. “We were inspired by the Brooklyn Book Festival, and looked for a similar event in New Jersey. But the closest festival at that point was in Morristown. We live in such a literary community. I wanted to do something here,” he says.
Lasner, who is Editor-in-Chief at IG Publishing, began a planning process that lasted close to two years. “We reached out to the townships, authors and book people. The response was overwhelming,” he says.
Originally, Lasner hoped to host 50 authors. But the response was so great, they broadened the scope of the event to include 80 authors. Of these authors, approximately half live in New Jersey, and a quarter are from the Maplewood South Orange area.
Read more about the festival in this Village Green article.
“It was entertaining because I found people I worked with who lived blocks away from me. If not for the festival, I wouldn’t have known we are neighbors,” says Lasner.
The festival is planned to accommodate both adults and children. Along with a broad lineup of topics and authors for adults, 2017 Caldecott winning children’s author Javaka Steptoe (author of Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat) as the keynote speaker for the children’s panel from 4-5 pm on Saturday. All Saturday events are free.
On Friday evening, author Mary Roach will be the inaugural keynote speaker for adults, discussing her newest book, Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War. Called “America’s funniest science writer” by the Washington Post, her other books include Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2003), Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (2005), Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex (2008), Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void (2010), My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places, and Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (2013). Roach will be interviewed by Budd Mishkin.
Friday June 9th from 6-7:30pm, there will be a launch party at SOPAC, complete with open bar and food provided by Kings of Maplewood. Books will be available throughout the festival from Words Bookstore, the official book seller of the festival. Roach will speak from 8-10pm. Purchase tickets here. Use the code BOOK25 for $25 tickets to see Roach — and get a free copy of Grunt.