By Samantha Samel
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
BAM’s wildly popular ‘Eat, Drink & Be Literary’ series commences Jan. 23, with British Brooklynite Martin Amis. Since its inception in 2005, the program has consisted of dinners in the BAMcafe (Lepercq Space) with extraordinary writers who speak about their work and answer questions from the audience. Each year, the series nearly sells out.
Partnering with the National Book Awards, BAM will be hosting an exciting roster of participants 2013, including Junot Díaz, Jamaica Kincaid and Richard Russo. In addition to Martin Amis, Brooklyn-based writers Colson Whitehead and Nell Freudenberger will be featured this year. Authors will read from and discuss their work with a moderator, after which audience members are invited to ask questions.
As BAM has traditionally focused on performing arts programs, the Eat, Drink & Be Literary series demonstrates the institution’s flexibility. The idea for the program originated with BAM’s president, Karen Brooks Hopkins; she spoke to Joe Melillo, BAM’s executive producer, about a possible collaboration with the National Book Foundation (now the National Book Awards), and the two organizations joined forces. Sandy Sawotka, BAM’s director of publicity, told Brooklyn Eagle, “Joe had been thinking about a new program for the BAMcafé, and it came together nicely.”
Over the past eight years, the series has expanded BAM's audience to include a distinct literary crowd. In previous years many prominent authors have participated, including Michael Cunningham, E.L. Doctorow, Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jonathan Franzen, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Téa Obreht, among others. Past moderators include writers Kurt Andersen, Michael Greenberg and Francine Prose.
'Eat Drink' is organized by BAM’s Humanities department, along with Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the National Book Awards. Augenbraum will serve as one of this year’s moderators, as will author and Guggenheim Fellow Phillip Lopate, and editor Deborah Treisman.
Tonight, acclaimed British author Martin Amis will discuss his latest novel, “Lionel Asbo: Stateof England,” with Deborah Treisman. Amis, who lives locally with his wife and two daughters, bought his Cobble Hill home just over two years ago.
The series will continue through June. Sawotka tells Brooklyn Eagle, “Most ‘Eat Drink’ events sell out and we couldn't be happier with its success.”