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The First Latin American Book Fair could not have been possible without the committee shown above. Photo: Emily Neil/AL DIA News

Philadelphia’s first Latin American Book Fair was a hit

The event that took place in the heart of City Hall and was the perfect combination of culture and inspiration.

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Friday, October 4 made history for Latinos in Philadelphia. The first Latin American book fair took place in a windy, but ever-accommodating location: the City Hall rotunda. Over 31 authors registered to showcase their work— a number more than the organizers expected.

Councilman David Oh opened the event by welcoming the attendees and the event’s committee. Among them was Edgar Ramirez from PhiLatinos Radio, whose original idea was to create something that promoted literature in Spanish. 

As part of the inauguration, a book titled I live in Philadelphia by Venezuelan writer Ana Omana was “baptized,” or in other words, introduced as a newly published book. She writes in English and Spanish for the kids who are born in the US, but have parents from Latin American.

The morning continued with book readings, poetry recitals, musical performances and entertainment for all attending the book fair. 

A Dream Come True

When we spoke to the organizers, they all agreed on a common thread: that the book fair was a dream that came true in the most unexpected way. 

Edgar Ramirez had the idea, but he did not know where to begin. With the help of individuals like Ana Omana and event planner Mariuska Forbes, the idea took flight.  An event that could take up to a year of planning, happened in just two months. 

They took his dream and helped him execute it. And it was a hit.

When we spoke with Forbes about the planning, she was only counting on having 12 local authors. What she did not expect was to have to put a limit on the amount that could participate. That experience has prepared them well for next year’s book fair, where they expect double the turnout.

Ramirez wanted to show that the Latino community is, in fact, literate, and bring books that are proof of its love for literature. When asked his opinion on the success of the fair, he replied humbly:

“The simple fact of doing it is already a success.”

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