The Queens Book Fair and Literary Festival


By Dr. Dhanpaul Narine

It was advertised in the media all winter. The Queens Book Fair and Literary Festival will take place on June 24, 2018 at the Starlite Pavilion starting at 1:00 pm. It is the first time that such an event will be held in the community and the response so far has been terrific.

There are 35 authors that will present their work and they come from all corners of the planet.

The books touch on a number of subject areas ranging from fiction, poetry and to non-fiction and research topics. Attorney Elizabeth Jaikaran has written a series of life experiences in ‘Trauma’ and will read selected portions from it. Identity and domicile have always been uppermost in the minds of immigrants; Mohanie Stockwell will explore these themes in her book ‘Where is home?’

There will be a reading from ‘To Sir, with Love’ that was written by E.R Brathwaite while Rev. Seopaul Singh will look at his roots in Guyana. Dr. Basdeo Mangru will discuss indentureship and Attorney Derrick Arjune will explore the questions of belonging in ‘I want to come home.’ Anna Coltman and Petra Lewis are seasoned writers. They add realism in their books ‘The Mute’s Masquerade’ and ‘The Sons and Daughters of Ham’.

Alyssa D’Amico in ‘Short Circuit: An Epileptic Journey’ talks about her experiences in scaling her own mountains and how she overcame them. Dr. Lear Matthews offers a scholarly perspective on the adjustment of English-speaking immigrants in the diaspora while Drs. Kennard and Dwarka Ramphal and Ms. Barbara Verasami examines life’s journeys.

Roy Brumell has written extensively about the life and times of Guyanese folklorist Wordsworth McAndrew and he will recount some of those experiences. Dr. Sonia Noel brings her motivational speech in ‘Living with Intentions’ and the much awaited book launch will see Padmashri Pratap Pawar ‘My Journey in Dance’ on display.

Pratap Pawar has an interesting history. He is from India and was sent by the Indira Gandhi government to spread Indian culture abroad. The first port of entry was Guyana. Pratap trained a host of Guyanese in Kathak dancing before he moved on to Trinidad. Claudia Vidal brings insights in relationships and wellness and her book ‘Hues of Change’ is an interesting read on the subject.

In the love-story department Latchman Rajrup’s book ‘Goodbye Forever, Vicky’ seems to be an ode to heartbreak. Barbara Verasami will team up with her brothers, Kennard and Dwarka, to read from ‘Life’s Imprints.’ Robert Mahase will read about his village on the West Coast of Demerara in Guyana and of the struggles that he had to endure while he was growing up.

Roy Paul has been writing for a long time and the Book Fair will give recognition to his efforts. He is married to a distinguished Amerindian lady that no doubt influenced him to write ‘Raiders of the Rupununi.’ Vidya Sircar Ramdhan recounts her experiences while living in Guyana and her decision to leave the country. In a ‘Travelers Tale’ she speaks of her varied experiences.

Jacqueline Smartt is a teacher in New York City and her ‘Navigators Travel to Guyana’ is an intelligent read on the beauty of the magnificent province. Then there is Rooplall Monar’s ‘Backdam People’ in which he describes the intricacies of everyday life in the villages of Guyana. His writings on ‘Old Higue’ have become a classic as is ‘Cent and Jill’ that is seen through the culture of the people. Dr. Kamini Doobay is a distinguished medical doctor who is based in New York. Her activism and writings in fighting for racial equality in the delivery of medical services is well known. She will speak on it at the Book Fair.

Dr. Gary Girdhari is a distinguished scientist. He was the head of the Biology Department at the University of Guyana. Dr. Girdhari has written a book of poems and he will read from his book. Dr. Dhanpaul Narine is a columnist of the ‘West Indian’ and a published author. He is the Director of the Queens Book Fair and Literary Festival and will present from his book ‘America in Crisis.’

This year’s Book Fair will pay tribute to some of the writers that are no longer with us. They are E.R Brathwaite, Dr. Churaumanie Bissundyal, Dr. Harold Drayton, Edgar Mittelhozer, Sir Wilson Harris and Joshua Ledra. Each of these has an absorbing history. E.R. Brathwaite is the author of the famous ‘To Sir, with Love’ novel that describes his teaching stint in a school in London’s East End.

The book was made into a Hollywood movie and Lulu sing the hit song that topped the charts. But Brathwaite would go on to write other books such as ‘Paid Servant’ and to become an advocate for freedom in South Africa. Edgar Mittelhozer is well-known for the Kwayana trilogy that is set in Guyana. He moved to London where he became a prolific writer and his book ‘Corentyne Thunder’ is warm and captivating.

Dr. Churaumanie Bissundyal was an author, teacher and playwright that has left an indelible mark in the community. He was born in Guyana and was popular in the New York area where he taught and lectured. Dr. Bissundyal was versed in Hindi and Sanskrit and in the latter part of his life he taught in Fiji.

Dr. Harold Drayton was a brilliant educator and one of the founders of the University of Guyana. He was an international scholar and his contributions to education are legendary. His book is ‘An Accidental Life.’ Joshua Ledra wanted to find out how electricity worked. His curiosity took him to study grids on a scholarship in Hungary and to graduate later with a Master’s Degree from Manchester University.

Ledra worked for a while in Guyana before the Americans heard about his talents. Before long, he was in Baghdad. The assignment was for a few months but his knowledge was so highly valued that Ledra stayed for ten years in Iraq. He was responsible for bringing electric lights to Baghdad. His experiences are chronicled in his book ‘The truth about the crisis in Iraq.’

Sherene Noble has written an interesting collection of short stories called ‘Intertwined.’ She is a middle school ESL teacher that also writes a blog. Khalleel Mohamed is with his book ‘Learn to Read’ in the children’s section and his techniques have produced results in Canadian schools. Gokarran Sukhdeo won the Guyana Prize for Literature in 1998 and some of his poems will be read at the Book Fair.

The Literary program features over 30 presentations in poetry and the spoken word. It will be followed by a showing of ‘Echos from the Plantation’ to commemorate 188 years of East Indian indentureship to Guyana.

This unique collection of writers and presenters will be on display for the first time in Richmond Hill. Everyone that is interested in literacy should make an effort to attend. The Book Fair will be held at Starlite Pavilion 130-05 101 Avenue, Queens NY, 11419 on Sunday June 24, 2018. Tel: 718-848-8831 or