The Downtown Literary Festival was created in 2013 to celebrate the literary culture of downtown Manhattan. “Downtown’s been the crucible of New York for so long,” said Amanda Bullock, director of public programming for Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, which is presenting the 15-event line-up with McNally Jackson Books.
Unlike, say, The Brooklyn Book Festival, the Downtown Literary Festival features conversations instead of panels (there are no moderators). And unlike The New Yorker Festival, all events are free and first-come, first-serve (there are no reservations or tickets). Both of those festivals take place in the fall.
For its second go-around, the Downtown Literary Festival has increased in size and scope. There are official opening and closing parties, plus a third venue (the Bowery Poetry Club), and an added focus on comics. At “Graphically New York: The City as Character,” artists Gabrielle Bell, MK Reed and Julia Wertz will talk in front of projected illustrations of their work. (Said Bullock, “I think it’s awesome that our comic event is three women.”)
On Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., there will be dialogues and storytelling sessions dedicated to “people who live here, and people whose work addresses themes related to downtown New York City,” Bullock said. Guest speakers include Richard Price, Francine Prose, Joshua Ferris, Colm Tóibín and many more.
We’re especially looking forward to “Closing Time: Stories of Shuttered New York City Venues,” where, according to the schedule, Stacey D’Erasmo, Mike Doughty, Nelson George, Nathan Larson, Alan Light, Marc Spitz and Porochista Khakpour (who moderated our own Cat Marnell and Richard Kern panel) will remember “the empty pools, DIY spaces, concert halls, and arenas that have closed their doors but live on in the hearts of bands and fans.”
Early Sunday evening, after the last event, festivities will be held in the basement of Von bar on Bleecker Street.