Boston Book Festival returns in person

Ella Wilczek, '25

The annual Boston Book Festival was held in Back Bay on Saturday, October 29, including a book fair in Copley Square and a variety of events around the area. Venues included the Boston Public Library, Boston Architectural College, Old South Church, and the Goethe Institute. There were events geared for all ages.

Keynote speaker Patrick Radden Keefe, in conversation with moderator Meghna Chakrabarti, kicked off the event Friday night. Keynote authors who spoke the following day included children’s authors Tui T. Sutherland and B. B. Alston, fiction writers Yiyun Li, Gish Yen, and Malinda Lo, and nonfiction writer Bessel van der Kolk.

This year’s festival was the first held in person for three years. The pandemic forced the 2020 and 2021 festivals online. Librarian Laura Bernheim said of its return, “It was great to be back at the Boston Book Festival in person after three years. This is a fall tradition for me for several years and it was wonderful, as usual.”

Many different authors, writing in different genres and forms, were present at the festival. Festival-goers enjoyed storytimes for young children, poetry readings, and literary walking tours as well as a workshop on writing verse novels, a panel on social change, a conversation around women and memoirs, and an exploration of popular music.

The event Making Change, for example, featured nonfiction writers Ruha Benjamin, Erica Chenoweth, and John Della Volpe in a discussion on community action, civil resistance, and Gen Z’s relationship to politics.

The street fair hosted many booksellers and publishers from the Boston area and beyond. Bookstores Brattle Book Shop, More Than Words, and the MIT Press Bookstore attended, while publishers such as Harvard University Press and Europa Editions sold copies of books.

The Berklee Festival Stage entertained the crowds with performances by Berklee students Zoe Ny and Emme Cannon, among others.

The Squad comes to Somerville

Ella Wilczek, '25

This past Saturday, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (MA), Rep. Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez (NY), Rep. Ilhan Omar (MN), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (MI), and Rep. Cori Bush (MS) gathered together at the Somerville Theater for a panel conversation.

During the conversation, moderated by historian and writer Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, the representatives spoke on a number of issues important to them, including student debt relief, accessibility of clean water, and prison abolition.

Kendi is the founding director of the Center for Antiracist Research at Boston University.

The five representatives comprise "the Squad" of a few allied members of the House of Representatives. All are women of color, most of them elected to office in 2018. The group has defined itself by its commitment to social justice.

At the event Pressley used the term expansively, saying, “Anybody doing work for a more equitable and just society is a member of the Squad.”

Those waiting in line before the event were confronted by protesters opposed to Pressley. The protesters spoke through megaphones and directly approached attendees, accusing both attendees and the representatives of racism. Many carried pro-Trump and anti-abortion signs.

Local music groups performed at the event. The artist Danny Rivera led a chorus in performing the song “Joy” in celebration of the idea that “another world is possible, one where your life is defined by joy and possibility, not trauma and hardship,” as put by Pressley in her opening speech. The artist Lux Villar also presented a poem and led a group in musical performances.

During the discussion, the representatives talked about how their lived experiences inform their policies and decision-making. Many brought up difficult and traumatic experiences. Ilhan Omar spoke about her experience of hunger as a child and its impact on her political action.

The representatives also spoke on the importance of intersectionality in shaping the world around us. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke about how systems such as capitalism and imperialism “seek to isolate us, to separate us, to make us feel alone and to flatten us into two-dimensional identities,” and the role this plays in the development of political progress.

Pressley added, “We are one human family, and our freedoms and our destinies are inextricably tied… What happens to one of us is the business of all of us.”

The event can be found on Ayanna Pressley’s Facebook at this link.