The Harlem Book Fair is a yearly event that convenes readers, authors, and book industry people. While this event was unfortunately overall disappointing, I did manage to have a productive day.
This year, I saw a few new faces. Authors like Danielle Marcus and Sakinah Ibrahim. Walking around, I ran into familiar authors also, such as Felicia Capers and Mahogany Starr.
It took all of fifteen minutes to get through the vendors, as there was only one block this year. I came through and said my hellos to folks.
I participated in a panel called “Prose and Poetry” at Calabar Imports on 134th and 8th Avenue. This wasn’t too far away from the fair. Thanks to everyone who came out.
Now, I am about to talk about a difficult part of the event. As someone who attends this event every year, I take no joy in expressing this thought: the Harlem Book Fair is in serious decline.
This year’s fair was sparsely attended, had no panels going on, and was held entirely on one block. 135th between Lenox and Seventh. Even on the one block, there were a lot of empty spaces. It’s was not a draw, and I heard that many people went to the Go Africa Festival on 116th instead. At the moment, I am seriously concerned about the future of the Harlem Book Fair as both a reader and a local author. I want to see this event prosper, and turn around if at all possible. The last thorough book fair in Harlem was it’s 2015 event.
Is there a way to turn this around, or is it too far gone? Has gentrification taken it’s toll on the Black literary scene in Harlem, or is this just an isolated off year?