It’s always cool when you get a chance to meet the author of the book you’re reading, or at least thinking of reading.
Last week I went to hear the winner of the inaugural Caribbean Burt Award, A-dZiko Simba Gegele, read parts from her debut novel, All Over Again. I’ve been to readings before, but something about this one was a little more intimate. There may have been 20 chairs laid out, but only about 6 people were there. The room looked pretty sparse so, instead of sitting at the desk and chair laid out for her, she came and sat with us. I didn’t mind the low turn out because it meant that I got a chance to chat with her little before the reading began. When it came to the reading, it probably helped that she had a performance background, because I was so hooked by the story, or the cadence of her voice, that as soon as the reading was over I made sure to get a signed copy of her book.
Yesterday, while working a Farmers Market coffee shop, I saw 2 boys trailing a familiar looking lady. The boys were there to sell lemonade to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders and as they set up, it hit me that the lady was Ingrid Persaud, who published her debut novel last year, If I Never Went Home. It has been sitting on my bedside table for ages along with a couple of other novels I’ve been meaning to finish reading but haven’t gotten around to yet. I went up to her just to make sure, and she was nice and seemed excited to be recognized. Now I definitely have to finish reading it, so if I ever see her again I can tell her what I think.
Next week, I’ll be meeting Christian Campbell, Trinidadian-Bahamian poet and cultural critic. I’ve been desperately trying to work my way through his collection of poetry, Running the Dusk, before he gets here, but if you read poetry you would know that it’s not something that can be rushed. I’m not even half-way through. However, Campbell’s collection is the first collection of poetry I’ve tried to engage with in a long time, I didn’t realize how much I missed the taxing but enjoyable activity of trying to pick a poem apart.
In any case, I’m looking forward to meeting Campbell and I loved meeting Persaud and Gegele because (in the brief conversations that I had with them) I got the sense that they didn’t have it all figured out, they were just doing something that they loved. I’ve heard it said, more likely I read somewhere, that you shouldn’t meet your idols because you might be disappointed, but I like to meet the writers I read, or want to read, and see them in all their imperfect glory—It’s a reminder that a human-being wrote this book.