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Book Festival Draws Acclaimed Authors

Illustration by Gemma Fa-Kaji

Each year, a sea of white tents pops up in Civic Center park, and hundreds of acclaimed authors travel from near and far to be a part of the Bay Area Book Festival, sponsored by the San Francisco Chronicle. The festival, which took place on April 28 and 29, featured a variety of talks, interviews, and book signings in Downtown Berkeley.

The festival has occurred annually since 2015, bringing the Bay Area together for a large celebration of art, culture, and literature. This year, booths selling food, books, and art spilled out onto Allston and Milvia. There were carnival rides, games, and music. Book lovers young and old lined up to meet authors and buy books and art. “This festival has changed my thinking in a lot of ways,” said Barbara Santos, who was running a booth at the festival.

“This festival is bringing literary conversations and the love of literature to a diverse cross-section of the Bay Area,” said the festival’s chief operating officer, Scott Gelfrand.

In a talk entitled “Resisting Hate Speech With Free Speech,” Nadine Strossen, a law professor, writer, and former president of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sat down with Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the UC Berkeley Law School, to talk about her new book, HATE: Why We Should Resist It with Free Speech, Not Censorship.

Strossen discussed how best to deal with hate speech in America, especially on college campuses, and made the argument that more speech is the most effective way to counter and alleviate the harms of hate speech. This issue is especially relevant to Berkeley in light of the numerous incidents surrounding free speech in the past year.

This talk was just one example of the plethora of  interesting and thought-provoking events offered this year at the Bay Area Book Festival.