The San Diego City College International Book Fair returned to campus with a variety of events leading up to the full day of author readings and book signings on Oct. 3. A diverse selection of writers of
fiction, nonfiction and poetry were presented throughout the annual literary festival.
Highlighting the international range of the fair, authors of Mexican, Filipino, Chinese and Puerto Rican descent participated, including selected readings in Spanish. Topics ranged from environmentalism to feminism to multi-cultural points of view. Featured writers read from their work, then gave insight on their ideas and techniques and answered questions from attendees.
In the Saville Theatre, renowned environmental writers Barry Sanders and William Powers conducted back-to-back discussions of the earth’s current and future states. Powers, who has worked to promote conservation in Africa and Latin America, said of the United States, “I love this country. I am of it,” but also explained the value of, “…seeing things as an outsider.”
Marilyn Chin is an award-winning author of poetry and fiction and co-directs the creative writing MFA program at San Diego State. She read her vivid, sometimes hilarious, tales of unflattering family motivations and youthful misadventure, always finding a path to justified resolution. Chin described her pieces as “immigrant anthems” and “raunchy stuff,” often centered around a matriarch or other empowered woman. “These are revenge tales, Zen tales,” she explained to an engaged audience.
City College’s Professor of humanities, Laurel Corona, gave great insight into her recent books “The Four Seasons: a Novel of Vivaldi’s Venice” and the non-fiction Holocaust resistance chronicle “Until Our Last Breath.” She recounted the inspirations that are required to write, “a smart read” including choosing an engaging subject, listening to one’s heart or “coming down with a book” and considering one’s long term growth as a writer. Recounting her experiences writing historically based material, Corona emphasized the need for diligent research and ethical consideration when shaping scenes and characters.
Willie Perdomo is a recognized poet and publisher from New York. He used his booming, street-wise voice to deliver poems such as “Poet in Harlem” and “Smoking Lovely”.
In the lobby, and on the terrace outside the theater, local publishers, book dealers and writers filled tables with displays. Most of the authors who spoke made themselves available to sign copies of their work and greet all who were interested. Vendors such as Bluestocking Books, Plowshare Media and San Diego Writers, Inc. staffed information and sales booths at this year’s fair.
Mary Mason and Doug McClure are booksellers who specialize in mystery novels. Sitting in a covered booth, they commented on the fair’s light attendance.
“It’s quiet,” said McClure. “We brought inexpensive books, but there has been little foot traffic.”
“There don’t seem to be as many people coming out to browse after the lectures as in past years,” Mason said.