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Boston Book Festival announces keynote speakers for 2023

The 15th-anniversary event will feature Heather Cox Richardson, Chloe Gong, and Rick Riordan

From left: Chloe Gong, Rick Riordan, and Heather Cox Richardson will be keynote speakers at Boston Book Festival's 15th annual event Oct. 14.Jon Studio/ Boston Book Festival

The Boston Book Festival, which returns to Copley Square on Oct. 14 for its 15th annual event, announced three keynote speakers Monday: author and historian Heather Cox Richardson, young adult novelist Chloe Gong, and “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” creator Rick Riordan.

“On our 15th anniversary year, it’s especially fitting to feature these rock star writers, exemplars of their respective genres, as our keynotes,” said Deborah Z Porter, BBF founder, in a press release. “They will be joined by a couple hundred other distinguished authors and we are looking forward to revealing those names soon.”

The free event will feature books and presentations by authors across adult fiction and nonfiction, poetry, young adult, and children’s genres.


Richardson is a professor in Boston College’s history department and writes the enormously popular Substack newsletter “Letters from an American” where she discusses current events, politics, and history. An expert on 19th-century America, she has written about the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, and the American West. Her next book, releasing on Sept. 26, “Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America,” delves into how the rich are unraveling the principles of our country. She looks to the history of marginalized groups and their values as a guide for returning to democracy.

A recent University of Pennsylvania graduate with a double major in English and international relations, Gong is known for her YA “Secret Shanghai” series, which begins with a Romeo and Juliet love story in a fantasy version of Shanghai in the 1920s. The New York City-based author will release “Immortal Longings,” the first novel in her new adult series “Flesh and False Gods,” July 18.

Riordan, a Boston resident, launched his Percy Jackson series with “The Lightning Thief” in 2005. The series now includes four other novels from Percy’s point of view, and Riordan has developed other series following characters from the same universe. The sixth Jackson novel, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Chalice of the Gods,” is due out on Sept. 26. “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” is being adapted into a TV series on Disney+.


The Boston Book Festival will also host JustKids! on Oct. 21, a new event focused on children’s literature. From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Roxbury Branch of the Boston Public Library and the Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, children are invited to attend story times, workshops, and author sessions. Cartoonist and illustrator Jerry Craft and author and poet Nikki Grimes will headline JustKids!

Updates will be posted on bostonbookfest.org.

Maddie Browning can be reached at maddie.browning@globe.com.