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I’m really happy that Dennis Lehane is going to be there. Another author I’m really excited for is Edwidge Danticat. I’m also looking forward to Victor LaValle and and Ethiopian author, Maaza Mengiste.
What are some of the best books you’ve read in the last year?
One of the books is from an author who has been at the Book Fest in the past, and lathough she’s not here this year, I’m sure she’ll be back. Jaqueline Woodson wrote a YA novel called “Beneath A Meth Moon” that is a really fantastic novel. Another great one is by Akashic author Nathan Larson. It’s his second book, “The Nervous System.” I also really liked Victor LaValle’s book, “The Devil in Silver.” And I just read one of the first books that Walter Mosely, who is going to be at the festival, wrote, “Devil in a Blue Dress,” which was great.
What events are you most excited about?
I’m really excited about the event with Walter Mosely, Edwidge Danticat, and Dennis Lehane. They’re three of the biggest authors and they’re going to be talking about the challenges that face even veteran best-selling authors, how it continues to be a struggle even when you’re successful. I’m also looking forward to two programs we have focusing on the Caribbean, this year marks 50 years of independence for Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. One of the programs is curated by Calabash International Literary Festival and the other by BOCAS, the Trinidadian lit festival. I’m just a big fan of Caribbean literature.
As the founder and head of Akashic Books, an independent publishing house, what do you think about the current state of independent book publishing? Is it much harder for the little guys with the existence of publishing behemoths and huge corporate entities like Amazon?
Actually, I think it’s a pretty great time for indie publishing. It’s related to the economic recession really. These big publishing companies have been crippled by lay-offs and so it’s not a pleasant time for major houses. Indies are flourishing because the talented authors that have been dropped from the big houses can find homes at smaller ones. Indie publishing has always been a fragile endeavor, we’re used to being scrappy, scraping by, and coming up with great ideas because of the challenges we’re perpetually facing. We’ve really made our mark with our ingenuity and will be able to navigate these times better than if we were the bigger publishing houses.
How does Brooklyn show its support for the literary world? How does that manifest itself in the Book Festival?
I’ve lived in Fort Greene since 1990 and I’ve noticed the changes over the years. When (independent bookstore) Greenlight came along it was a sign that things had changed. More and more publishing people live in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill and so more people are aware of the challenges that they (independent book sellers) have had, so there’s been a tremendous amount of community support. There’s a feeling in the community that we need to protect and nurture these places so they can succeed. Another thing is that at the Book Festival, all the independent vendors have been reporting high sales. Publishing houses sell their books and literary magazines sell subscriptions. This is exciting because the public is paying back the lit world for throwing this huge free festival/ It’s a two-way street where they get free programming. There’s a literary food chain and it’s a very precarious existence, but people are aware of it now.