This is the third year that I’ve attended Brooklyn Academy of Music’s series “Eat, Drink & Be Literary” (“EDBL” from here on) and the 14th year since it began, and I continue to be amazed by this event. This year, I was in the presence of an author whose work I’d never read before, Hari Kunzru. Needless to say, I bought one of Mr. Kunzru’s books once the talk was over.
As always, the staff at BAMcafé was on top of everything, making sure the guests were taken care of at all times. They were so fun, friendly and full of energy, which are just a few reasons why this event is always a success. Once seated, I took in the crowd and the atmosphere, which was abuzz with excitement for the start of this year’s series. I saw a few faces from last year’s series, which was comforting in a way. But I also met a few first-timers, like Robin, Christina and Javier, who were all so friendly and fun to talk to. Robin, a newly-minted BAM member, said she decided to attend because she wanted to explore everything her membership had to offer. Christina and Javier decided to come because they wanted to do more in Brooklyn, which is where they’ve lived for the past few years. Aside from the event, we talked about work, having time to read for pleasure and the pros and cons of working in the legal field.
The food was delicious, with this year’s menu being Mizzuna & Radicchio, Braised Beef Brisket, Preserved Lemon & Chive Gnocchi and Wild Mushroom & Barley Salad. The dessert offering was a decadent Ginger Sticky Toffee Pudding, which was positively divine. As in years past, each table had carafes of red and white wines for guests to enjoy, provided this year by the Seghesio Family Vineyards.
During dinner, guests were treated to the music of trumpeter/composer Kenyatta Beasley and pianist Anthony Wonsey. Both were exceptional and kept things lively during the meal.
When I was done with my meal, I walked over to Brooklyn’s own Greenlight Bookstore kiosk to purchase one of Mr. Kunzru’s books. It took the strength of King T’Challa to keep me from purchasing every book on display. But I took it easy on my wallet and purchased Mr. Kunzru’s White Tears, his latest book, The Power by Naomi Alderman and the hardcover edition of Ta‑Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther series. But I could have easily purchased ten more books for my library.
Once dinner was over, Deborah Treisman, the Fiction Editor at one of my favorite magazines, The New Yorker was introduced. Ms. Treisman then introduced Hari Kunzru, who I have to say is one handsome fellow. He read the first chapter from White Tears, and hearing him read his own words before I’ve had a chance to myself made me so glad I purchased his book. They are moving and thoughtful and draw readers in from the very beginning.
After the reading, Ms. Treisman and Mr. Kunzru sat down for a very lively discussion about the author’s process, what he’s currently working on and why he writes. At one point, Mr. Kunzru said that he’s “always been interested in the idea of authenticity and where authenticity lies.” At a time when authenticity is constantly called into question, it’s refreshing to hear someone show a genuine interest in authenticity and what it means.
Afterwards, there was a Q&A session, which gave guests a chance to ask their burning questions. I’m always amazed at this part of the event, because the guests usually have such thought-provoking questions. The authors seem to love this part of the session as well and get a real kick out of engaging with the guests.
There are still a few more events left in this year’s series, which include Valeria Luiselli and Kevin Young. For more information about “Eat, Drink & Be Literary” and to purchase tickets, click here. Until next year!
Photo of Mr. Kunzru courtesy of Clayton Cubitt.