Now in its ninth year, the annual Harlem Book Fair, held July 20-22, was a welcome break from the Harry Potter mania. The event drew hundreds of onlookers and bookbuyers from the community and elsewhere. At the newly renovated Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, there were several panel discussions, one of which featured former Congressman J. C. Watts, speaking on the State of African American Literacy. Just outside, along a two-block stretch of 135th Street, there were poetry readings, gospel music, book sales, and more.
This is a wonderful venue for self-publishers, new authors, and obscure publishers to showcase their works: Dwayne Murray’s The Mouse that Roared from Madbo Enterprises; John Fouts Gardenhire’s Life Lessons from M y Father from Airleaf; and Joann D. Bellamy’s Saving Grace from Xulon Press.
There was an interesting assortment of vendors: a custom clothier (Simply Ellis) promoting a book called Restoring the Male Image…a Look from the Inside Out; tents for clothing; a Washington mutual bank exhibitor; and a number of food stands. There were radical book vendors too. I was impressed with the hundreds of African Americans roaming those aisles, looking for books to add to their libraries, supporting black authors. Who says we don’t read?