More than 300 authors discussed their latest works at last Sunday’s annual Brooklyn Book Festival, the largest book fair on the East Coast. A total of 86 panels on wide-ranging topics held at 14 different locations scattered across Brooklyn drew in throngs of book lovers and literary aficionados.
In the Brooklyn Historical Auditorium, an all-women panel was deeply engaged in the discussion titled Mothers and Other Monster Myths, which touches on intergenerational history and complex familial relationships. Authors who graced the event and shared their personal tales included Gabrielle Bell (“Everything is Flammable”), Thi Bui (“The Best We Could Do”) and Julia Alekseyeva (“Soviet Daughter”). All of them grew up in immigrant families which came from different cultural backgrounds – Bell has French parents, Alekseyeva was born in the former USSR and Thi Bui’s family immigrated to the United States during the Vietnam War.
Merit O’Hare, a high school English teacher and member of the audience, expressed that she was heartened to see the writers tackle the myth of motherhood, which delves into society’s expectations on what it means to be a mother and a woman. “Despite some of the progress we have made in terms of gender inequality, a lot of women are still held to some of those standards which limit their successes and may even limit them from being people,” said O’Hare. “Memoirs like these are doing a good job of interrogating some of those myths.”
Other talks held later that day at the Brooklyn Historical Society Auditorium included Structures of Power: Politics, Science Fiction, and Fantasy presented by the Center for Fiction and The Problems and Promise of Cities.