Two years ago, I found myself at the Asian American Writers Workshop (AAWW) PAGE TURNER Literary Festival after-party in a loft overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge making small talk with a charming man in a fedora. I had been sent to cover the event for Sepia Mutiny and was determined to attend, despite a sudden rainstorm that coated the sidewalks with a thin sheet of ice. The cold weather fostered an air of intimacy that was furthered as festival goers merrily stumbled in with their wet galoshes. At the least, I had hoped to meet one, perhaps two of the authors in attendance at the event. But as the day went on, one by one, I was able to chat with all of the authors whose work I had long-admired. Amitav Ghosh. Junot Diaz. Amitava Kumar. And finally here, in front of me was Teju Cole himself, whose Small Fates I had discovered on Twitter just months ago. It was an unforgettable experience.
To get an idea of the energy at PAGE TURNER, find video from the 2011 festival below featuring Junot Diaz and Min Jin Lee. In this excerpt, Diaz shares his thoughts on writing with the audience:
You haven’t done anything wrong. Didn’t take an MFA? You didn’t do anything wrong. Took 11 years to write your first book? You didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t feel like writing about your family? You didn’t do anything wrong. Feel like writing about your family? You didn’t do anything wrong. Want to write about Asians? You didn’t do anything wrong. They keep trying to tell us we did fucking something wrong. You’re an artist. How could you do anything fucking wrong?
Luckily for you East Coasters, it’s #PageTurner time again. Join AAWW all day this Saturday, October 5, for PAGE TURNER. In their words, they’ll be taking over two giant buildings in Brooklyn to host an “unforgettable, all-day, free public fair that will bring together more than 30 writers and performers, along with the best of Brooklyn’s culinary culture.” Featured artists include Porochista Khakpour, Tash Aw, Manil Suri, Said Sayrafiezadeh, Amitava Kumar, Cathy Park Hong, Justin Torres, and others. For a full itinerary of the day’s events, visit the PAGE TURNER website. And follow along with @TheAerogram on Twitter as we live-tweet the event.