“La Feria del Libro Dominicano” returns for sixth year
Cultural event will feature more than 130 activities for the entire family
Story by Francis Rodriguez
The Dominican Annual Book Fair is back – and it promises to be bigger than ever, with a larger-than-life film legend as its thematic inspiration.
Now in its sixth year, the celebration starting on Fri., Sept. 28th known as “La Feria del Libro Dominicano” will span over three days and will be the most ambitious yet.
“La Feria” seeks, as always, to underscore Dominican literature and writers, while also highlighting the diverse and colorful culture of the Dominican diaspora with musical and dance presentations, visual art exhibitions, forums, panel discussions, and even a full-fledged concert featuring merengue super star Sergio Vargas at United Palace Theatre on Friday as its kick-off.
The concert, as befits the egalitarian nature of “La Feria,” will be free, as are virtually all of the fair’s events.
On Saturday and Sunday, the fair will open its doors to exhibitions, films and conferences all throughout the campus at Boricua College at 3755 Broadway, at the corner of 155th Street.
“We’re really excited about this [year] because we worked hard on a program that will unite a special group of intellectuals. Actors, writers, historians and elected officials from the island of Dominican Republic will join us for this occasion,” explained Carlos Sánchez, the Dominican Commissioner of Culture in the United States.
Sánchez noted that writers Dinorah Coronado and Cesar Sánchez Beras, regarded as two prominent authors and professors within the Dominican community, will be honored during this year’s “Feria.”
Both authors have been published by Alfaguara, one of the most distinguished publishing houses in Latin America and Spain.
Among special guests attending this year are major figures tied to Dominican cultural, literary and academic circles such as noted authors Marcio Veloz Maggiolo; Rene Rodriguez Soriano; Euclides Gutierrez Felix; Eugenio Garcia Cuevas; Miguel Collado; and Mateo Morrison, as well as Luis Brea Franco, the Minister of Culture in Dominican Republic.
Turn-out is also expected to be impressive.
“We’re expecting a lot of visitors this year, about 8,000; the Book Fair is a true cultural celebration with dance, theater, arts and crafts and paintings,” added Sánchez. “The agenda includes about 130 activities and a kid’s section.”
And about the movie legend on hand?
The fair is dedicated this year to Maria Montéz, the Dominican-born film actress who came to be known as “The Queen of Technicolor” for her vivid portrayals of fiery female protoganists. Montéz appeared in nearly 30 films during the ‘40’s and early 50’s.
One of these, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, in which Montéz starred with Jon Hall, and was directed by Arthur Lubin, will be screened during the fair.
Sunday, the last day of the event, will showcase the presentation of La Jom Atenda, a new play by author and playwright Diógenes Abreu, who won 2011’s literary prize Letras de Ultramar.
Abreu, who lives in Washington Heights, will be honored on Sunday afternoon. That event will also include a book-signing book session, and a dramatized reading of the play by Teatro Las Tablas, followed by a Q&A session with the author.
La Jom Atenda will open Off-Broadway, as directed by Yolanny Rodriguez and with veteran actors Mateo Gomez and Arisleyda Lombert this December, and rights have been acquired for a movie version.
“We’re very glad to honor Diógenes Abreu within the 6th Annual Dominican Book Fair,” expressed Sánchez. “And we’re proud to say that he’s the winner of the Letras de Ultramar award, one of our creations. La Jom Atenda is a great book. We hope that the community will join us and learn more about Abreu’s work.”
While the fair has, naturally, drawn largely Dominican and Dominican American audiences, Sánchez said he was looking forward to continuing to draw ever more diverse groups and on creating an outline for a more international event in years to come.
As such, the fair will, for the first time, collect demographic information on its participants with a brief survey.
“The survey will give us an idea of who is interested in this event, where are they coming from, and will offer us very valuable information,” noted Sánchez. “One of the main goals of our work now is to be able to involve more cultures in the book fair. The main focus will be always the richness of the Dominican culture, but we definitely want to be able to see Mexicans, Puerto Ricans and Colombians, among other Hispanic cultures, celebrating their love of books [also].”
“La Feria” will begin on Fri. Sept. 28th with a free concert at the United Palace Theatre, and will continue to host events on Sat., Sept. 29th and Sun., Sept. 30th at Boricua College at 3755 Broadway.
For the latest updates on the fair, please visit “La Feria del Libro Dominicano” on Facebook or call 212.234.8149.