Called “Bookchella” by some, the L.A. Times Book Festival showcased authors from many different genres and communities. Scenes from the book festival showed a mixture of panel discussions and live book talks on the University of Southern California’s campus. The book festival brought together a meeting of minds and good vibes.
A two-day event, the festival was the first major in-person event for some authors since the start of the pandemic. While virtual opportunities opened a new way for authors to connect with their audience, being in person with colleagues and readers offers a different experience for authors.
The presence and energy of several Black authors stood out in the pictures and clips from the weekend’s festivities. Pictures from the festival’s official photo studio captured the radiant fierceness of Stuart K. Robinson, author of “It All Begins With I” and “Pleasantville” author Attica Locke.
Celebrity authors, including Ziggy Marley and Janelle Monáe, took the stage to discuss their books. Poet Amanda Gorman also was featured on the main stage Saturday.
Professor Chanda Prescod-Weinstein, author of “The Disordered Cosmos: A Journey Into Dark Matter, Spacetime and Dream Deferred,” posted a cute picture with her mother during the festival. Prescod-Weinstein won the L.A. Times book prize for science and technology. In her acceptance speech, Prescod-Weinstein described the book as being both about science but also the violence of racism and colonialism.
“I also got to write as a griot of the universe who knows Black and Indigenous and queer, trans feminisms can save us and that we are all collections of quarks and electrons, some of us with amazing melanin in our skin,” read part of her remarks.
Kelly Rowland and her co-author Jessica McKay signed copies of their children’s book “Always With You, Always with Me.”
Lawyer Meena Harris, the niece of Vice President Kamala Harris, released two books early in the pandemic. She tweeted that this year’s Festival of Books was her first chance to have the author experience.
Both Michael Tubbs and his wife Anna Malaika Tubbs were featured authors this year. Anna Tubbs was on a panel with Martha S. Jones, Imani Perry and Clint Smith discussing “History: Race in America.” In her book, “The Three Mothers: How the Mothers of Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and James Baldwin Shaped a Nation,” Anna Tubbs explores
The former mayor of Stockton, CA, Michael Tubbs, previously spoke with NewsOne about his memoir “ The Deeper the Roots: A Memoir of Hope and Home.” Interviewing rap lyrics, bible verses, and personal anecdotes set out to create a memoir that people could relate to and not just another testament of Black excellence.
Tubbs didn’t want to write just another political memoir about the American dream or American exceptionalism.
“I really tried to write something that really was about sort of really challenging America,” Michael Tubbs said. “My story will be used to point out all the ways in which things are broken.”
He said he was really interested in reading memoirs about Black people growing up, and it inspired him to tell his own story. As a young person, Michael Tubbs said he was embarrassed about some aspects of his personal story. But in reflecting on the strength of his narrative, he saw a throughline of powerful Black women who entered his life at pivotal moments. Constant through it all was his mother.
“Oftentimes the narrative around single mothers and the narrative around sort of terms of incarcerated, it’s always so deficit-based and only so dreary and gloomy, and I just want to offer something that offers some light,” Michael Tubbs said. “Part of the process was more about the best way to be authentic on the page when was the best way to tell a story that has some heavy moments with some levity and how to make it feel approachable.”
For Michael Tubbs, the book was also a testimonial for adults to tell them that mentorship and working with youth really make a difference.
“Going the extra mile to see what kids can be really does matter,” Michael Tubbs said. “And [people] were just crazy enough to see that vision, despite me being in the principal’s office and being kicked out of class. They were always like, ‘No, I see something here, and I’m gonna do my best to help.’”