Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

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Readers converge on Bay Area Book Festival 

Annual event in downtown Berkeley hosts authors, vendors, bibliophiles
Inflated+floweresque+tents+from+Astro+Botannicals+shade+lounging+readers+at+the+2019+Bay+Area+Festival+in+Berkeley.+%28Photo%3A+Isis+Piccillo%2FThe+Tower%29
Inflated floweresque tents from Astro Botannicals shade lounging readers at the 2019 Bay Area Festival in Berkeley. (Photo: Isis Piccillo/The Tower)

A honeycomb-setup of authors, vendors, performance stages, and storytime circles drew book-lovers to the Bay Area Book Festival like bees to honey.

The festival unfolded over the sunny May 4–5 weekend in downtown Berkeley as readers languidly stretched out on hammocks, curled up on couches, or sheltered under inflated flower tents.

Maceo Cabrera Estevez of Booklandia sheltered her eyes from the sun as she sat on a stool outside her booth. Under the canopy lay a spread of vibrantly colored books, all of them in Spanish, bilingual Spanish, or written by Latinx authors.

“I feel like their books are needed,” said Cabrera of the her curated subscription box collection.

Gracing Cabrera’s table was “The Storm Runner” by J.C. Cervantes. Right across from Booklandia’s stall was Cervantes herself, speaking on a young-adult fiction-adventure panel titled “Wild Rides.”

“The Storm Runner” features a young contemporary protagonist caught up in Maya mythology.

Oakland-based playwright Ayasha Tripp, tabling in the Avenue of Authors, sat behind three of her published plays, one produced in the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek.

“A lot of my plays really come from life experience, just exaggerated,” she said. “My writing has been that outlet for things that I couldn’t express on my own, and I let the stories and characters express it for me.”

This year’s book fest explicitly focused on programs by and for people of color.

Booklandia’s Cabrera said she noticed a shift toward diversity over the last couple of years.

“I found that the Bay Area Book Festival didn’t have any Latinx content, and so I submitted a workshop,” she said of the panel she facilitated for the 2018 Bay Area Book Festival.

The “Wunderbar Together” pavilion in the Outdoor Fair celebrated German literature, La Cocina Food Court served international food, and a mix of ethnic, cultural, and racial topics infused the scheduled presentations.

“People are really working towards inclusive representation,” Cabrera said. In contrast to previous years, “I saw that there were a lot of white parents going to my booth with their kids and picking out so many books.”

The festival catered to readers of all ages, with programs ranging from interactive sleuthing to motherhood in the 21st century, but the joy was especially evident in the younger attendees.

Cabrera said she heard one young girl say “this is the best day of my life!” while another girl danced, unable to contain her excitement.

About the Contributor
Isis Piccillo
Isis Piccillo, Editor in Chief
Editor-in-Chief Isis Piccillo was born and raised in the Bay Area. An avid reader and lover of libraries, Piccillo knows reading has been key to developing their writing voice. They are invested in covering and amplifying the voices of marginalized and underrepresented groups, especially in the areas of health and science. When not frantically copyediting or furiously writing, Isis can be found on the soccer field, or with food.
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