Local authors featured at book fair panel

The 7th annual International Book Fair began on Oct. 1 through Oct. 6 at City College.

The fair was directed by Virginia Escalante and coincided with “Banned Books Week.”

To honor the week the event featured books recently banned in Arizona due to a state legislature.  These books were read aloud by their corresponding authors, including Matt de la Peña, Rudy Acuña, and Herbert Siguenza.

The event began with a reading from Reyna Grande and her recently released memoir.

The author of books such as Dancing with Butterflies and more notably, Across a Hundred Mountains spoke at last year’s book fair. She has received an American Book Award, International Latino Book Award, and other accolades because of her literary work. Her pieces revolve around the Mexican immigration movement and other related topics.

“I always felt that when people talk about immigration we always talk about the politics or the money, but we rarely talk about the people that stay behind and what it’s like for them to be left back home. That is what I was trying to capture in the book,” Grande said.

At this year’s book fair, she read an excerpt from her latest book and memoir, The Distance Between Us.

The book, which chronicles her life as she she personally deals with the Mexican immigration movement and her own struggles as she enters the U.S. as an illegal immigrant, is already receiving praise from critics including The Los Angeles Times.

At the reading, she was able to not only explain what her memoir consisted of, but also went in-depth about the emotional toils she faced being left behind in Mexico as a child while her parents came to the U.S., as well as the tension between them following her immigration with them later on. Grande also spoke about her adolescent years spent adjusting to American life and the tension with her estranged father whom she hadn’t known for eight years before moving to the U.S.

“For me, the hardest part of being an immigrant was reconnecting with my father. Not so much learning English and adapting to the culture, but how do you reconnect with the man you haven’t seen since you were two years old?” Grande said.

The memoir, as she also stated during her presentation, has an underlying lesson about identity as much as well as the impact immigration has on on families.

“When I went back to Mexico when I was 17, no one treated me the same, like I was an outsider. That’s when I realized that there was something I lost, and that was my home country,” said Grande. “I’m no longer Mexican enough for the Mexicans, and now I’m too Mexican for the Americans. That’s because one of the reasons I like to write is because it helps me come to terms with my identity.”

The memoir explores not only cultural identity and immigration, but also the general sense of growing up and the experiences of childhood and adolescence, namely through the eyes of Reyna Grande herself.

The book fair continued until Saturday, with four of the contributors Lantern Tree: Four Books of Poems appearing on Friday in the Saville Theater along with the readings on Saturday.

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Local authors featured at book fair panel