The Oakland Book Festival is a one-day, annual literary event. Dedicated to books, ideas, and the pleasures of literacy, it aims to serve the reading public, to encourage debate, and to celebrate the City of Oakland. It will host more than sixty writers in 2017 and is free and open to the public
Our mission...

2017 Festival: Equality/Inequality

2017’s theme is “Equality & Inequality.” The world’s eight richest men are as wealthy as half the world’s population. A staggering, almost incomprehensible statistic, which expresses only the scale of economic inequality.  How do people—writers, artists, mothers, day laborers, teachers, intellectuals—create a lifeworld under the inescapable and often debilitating fact of inequality? How do they transcend or at least come to terms with inequality? We’d like to examine the phenomenon of inequality in all its forms and deal with it as an existential, objective reality that impacts race, gender, health, aesthetics, class, and all human relations.

As tempting as it might be in the current climate to focus only on the problem of inequality and present a series of panels on its almost limitless categories and injustices, however, we would like to anchor the Festival in the idea of equality.  The Declaration of Independence posits liberty and equality as mutually supportive aspects of American democratic culture. And yet Americans have come to see the desires for freedom and for equality as pulling in opposite directions, as though we can only enjoy one at the expense of the other. This is a false dilemma, the result of which has been to privilege freedom at the expense of equality. This year’s OBF is aimed at shattering that dilemma and its associated confusions. It will be an examination of and an exercise in equality. 

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Sunday, May 21, 2017
Oakland City Hall
11am – 6pm | Free
Doors open at 10:30am


Other Events

Join the Oakland Book Festival on its opening night!

This year's Festival will kick off with a keynote address by Danielle Allen at 5pm on Saturday May 20th at Oakland City Hall: “It Is the Right of the People….” 

This event is free and open to the public.

Her address will be followed by a gala reception from 6:30-8pm for our panelists and supporters at the Starline Social Club. This is an opportunity for you to meet the more than 100 novelists, journalists, philosophers, poets, artists, and editors participating this year, from Danielle Allen to Sheryl Oring to Mistah F.A.B., privately and in person, over the Starline’s delicious cocktails and food—all while supporting the Oakland Book Festival’s present and future efforts!

The gala at the Starline Social Club will continue with a general admission party starting at 8pm. There will be mercifully few readings, many musical performances, and non-stop dancing from 8pm-2am.

Reserve your tickets for these Starline events here.

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With your help we can make this year our best festival yet. 
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Join the dozens of amazing partners that make this festival great.
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Reserve a table and booth to participate in this special event. 
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Help us keep the festival free and open to the public. 
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Highlights From the 2015 Festival: Cities

Highlights from the 2016 Festival: Labor

Praise for the Oakland Book Festival

A congenial and engaged atmosphere, with full houses at all panels and readings, often standing room only. Beautifully organized by an army of friendly, green-shirted volunteers within the City Hall venue.
— PEN Oakland

"Oakland Book Festival returns May 22," 
San Francisco Chronicle

"First-ever Oakland Book Festival coming May 31," 
San Francisco Chronicle

"New Book Festival Brings Big Ideas," 
East Bay Express

"Oakland Book Festival celebrates literature, learning," 
Daily Californian


"Celebrate Bay Area Community with the Oakland Book Festival," 
Oakland Local

"Oakland Book Festival debuts Sunday," 
San Jose Mercury News

"Forget New York: Reading Oakland founders excited about Bay Area," 
San Francisco Chronicle

"Snapp Shots: Oakland couple's first book festival successful, enriching," 
Contra Costa Times


Lead Image: Fred Soderberg. Oakland, California, 1900. San Francisco: 1900. Color lithograph. Geography and Map Division, Library of Congress.