We’re counting down memorable cultural moments in 2015. So far some of my favorite Austin moments this year have included honoring Selena during the 20th anniversary of her death and celebrating 15 years of Grupo Fantasma’s launch. But there was one more moment that I enjoyed witnessing that helps shed some light on Austin’s Latino community.
Latino authors shine at Texas Book Festival
At a time when readers are demanding more diversity in books from all genres, it’s important to watch how our own Texas Book Festival seeks ways to boost the festival’s diversity. The popularity of the We Need Diverse Books movement, which was launched last year, keeps growing and has sparked conversations about everything from inclusion of diverse characters in books to a lack of diversity in publishing.
At this year’s Texas Book Festival, it was meaningful to see the festival’s top honor, the Texas Writer’s Award, recognize the work of Pat Mora. As a prolific author and founder of the children’s literacy program Día de los Libros/Día de los Niños, Mora has been breaking barriers for decades. She shared some lessons with the crowd including how we need to value bilingualism, the importance of perseverance, and the growing need for diverse role models.
Author Sandra Cisneros echoed Mora’s sentiments about not giving up in a separate Texas Book Festival presentation that packed the Central Presbyterian Church. Cisneros began writing her popular “The House on Mango Street” book when she was 22 and finished it at 28. Earlier this year, Cisneros’ literary archive was acquired by the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University for $800,000.
Various other featured Latino authors, including Carmen Tafolla and Luis Alberto Urrea, spoke about everything from poetry to boxing. As festival organizers aim to increase diversity at the festival, it’ll be interesting to see how the event evolves.