The Bronx held its first-ever book festival on May 19 at Fordham Plaza, right across the street from the Rose Hill campus.
The all-day literary event, organized by book publicist and South Bronx native Saraciea Fennell, brought writers, illustrators, and industry professionals to the community, as well as a vendor to sell books on site. (Learn more about Fennell’s inspiration for this festival in this interview at Shondaland.)
Fordham stepped in as a last-minute cosponsor of the Bronx Book Festival, thanks to alumnus Miles Doyle, FCRH ’01, a senior editor at HarperOne, and Rafael Zapata, special adviser to the president for diversity, chief diversity officer, and associate vice president for Academic Affairs, who helped coordinate the University’s participation.
“I’m thankful that my colleague, Associate Dean and Professor of English Anne Fernald, learned of this unique opportunity to support Saraceia Fennell’s simple yet powerful vision: promoting literacy, creativity, and sharing of stories of the Bronx, by and for Bronx residents in public space. It’s profoundly democratic and empowering, and consistent with our mission as the Jesuit university of New York City,” Zapata said.
Doyle, who in his role at HarperOne specializes in religion, spirituality, and health and wellness, with particular interest in alternative self-help, said the book festival brought together what he loves most about books and the Bronx.
“Nothing brings me more satisfaction than engaging new readers with great books and everything they promise in their pages. At the same time, the Bronx has meant so much to me—first as an undergraduate at Rose Hill, where I started to take up these promises in earnest, and more recently as a resident of the Bronx and northern Manhattan, where I continue to enjoy and benefit from the area’s diverse and vibrant communities, as well as its local artists and businesses that continue to make this part of New York one of the city’s best,” he said.
The New York Times covered the event, asking residents of the borough to give their thoughts on its first book fair:
“We need a festival like this. Representation definitely matters, so to have all of these panels and to hear all of this, it matters,” 22-year-old Megan Pedragon told the newspaper. Read more here.