Boston Book Festival Announces 2015 Keynote Speakers

The list includes Margaret Atwood, Colum McCann, Moshe Safdie, Atul Gawande, James Wood, Louis Sachar, Libba Bray, Amanda Palmer, and Neil Gaiman.

boston book festival 2015

Photo from last year’s Boston Book Festival by Olga Khvan

Boston Book Festival organizers have announced the lineup of keynote speakers for the upcoming seventh annual edition of the celebrated literary event. Margaret Atwood, Colum McCann, Moshe Safdie, Atul Gawande, James Wood, Louis Sachar, Libba Bray, Amanda Palmer, and Neil Gaiman are scheduled to appear at the festival’s various venues around Copley Square in October.

Margaret Atwood will deliver the Kick-Off Keynote. In May, the award-winning Canadian novelist became the first author to contribute to the Future Library project, handing over a manuscript of a brand-new, unpublished book to be sealed away inside a library in Oslo for the next 100 years. In 2114, the works by Atwood and 99 other authors—one selected every year—will be printed on paper made from 1,000 trees that were planted last summer in Nordmarka. In the meantime, Atwood is also releasing another novel, The Heart Goes Last, in September.

The Fiction Keynote will be given by Colum McCann, who is best known for his 2009 novel Let the Great World Spin, which uses the story of daredevil Philip Petit’s 1974 high-wire walk between the two towers of the World Trade Center to reflect on the events of 9/11.

Internationally renowned architect Moshe Safdie will deliver the Art, Architecture, and Design Keynote. Boston is the American home base for Safdie’s firm, which also operates out of offices in Jerusalem, Toronto, Shanghai, and Singapore. Some of his local projects include the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, several buildings for the Harvard Business School, and The Esplanade luxury condo complex in Cambridge.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon, researcher, and writer Atul Gawande is “among the most influential and lucid voices in healthcare.” At the Boston Book Festival, Gawande will present the Nonfiction Keynote.

James Wood is a staff writer and book critic at The New Yorker and a literary criticism professor at Harvard. He’ll deliver the Humanities Keynote.

The Kids’ Keynote will be given by Louis Sachar, who is famous for penning the Sideways Stories from Wayside School series and 1999 Newbery Medal winner Holes.

Libba Bray, who will deliver the Young Adult Keynote, is the author behind the popular Gemma Doyle TrilogyGoing BovineBeauty Queens, and The Diviners. Her sequel to The Diviners is expected to be released in August.

Last but not least, local artists, writers, married couple, and expecting parents Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman will appear at the festival together, with Gaiman interviewing Palmer. Last year, Palmer released a memoir titled The Art of Asking that documents her early life as a performer and expands her ideas on crowdfunding, the topic of her famous 2013 TED Talk. Gaiman, meanwhile, has been busy working on a few scripts for an upcoming TV series based on his beloved 2001 novel American Gods.


The Boston Book Festival will take place October 23-24 at various indoor and outdoor locations throughout Copley Square. The entire festival will be free and open to the public, with the exception of two ticketed keynote events featuring Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer. Admission to both will be $10. Additional presenting authors and a full programming schedule will be announced later this summer. For more info, visit

Update, July 20, 10:45 a.m.: Since this post was published, organizers have changed the festival dates to October 23-24 from October 24-25. Additionally, Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer were originally billed to appear “in conversation,” but Gaiman will now interview Palmer during the event instead.