KENSINGTON – Hundreds of literary enthusiasts descended on Kensington’s Howard Avenue Sunday to meet authors, purchase their books and listen to them read from their works.
The Kensington Day of the Book Festival is held annually on the Sunday closest to the International Day of the Book. Elisenda Sola-Sole, owner of the Kensington Row Bookshop, co-founded the festival, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. For the past seven years, Sola-Sole has been the festival’s chief organizer. The festival is sponsored by the Pauli Bellet Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Sola-Sole’s family to promote Catalan literature and culture throughout the U.S. and specifically in the Washington, D.C. area.
“I love meeting so many nice people and great authors,” Sola-Sole said. “I have a lot of respect for someone who envisions a book and makes it a reality. We have many authors who come back every year.”
She recalled that one year, it rained all day during the festival, but it did not deter participants.
“We still had people come with their umbrellas, authors still showed up, people still tried to enjoy themselves,” Sola-Sole said. “The festival wouldn’t happen without the help of an amazing group of volunteers.”
Steve Piacente, a longtime journalist-turned fiction author, served as the festival’s emcee, introducing featured authors.
“This started 10 years ago as a little sidewalk festival with a few authors and maybe 50 people came,” Piacente said. “This year we’re expecting more than 5,000 people and more than 100 authors from different countries are here.”
Magdaline DeSousa, author of “Forgotten Mourners, Sibling Survivors of Suicide,” attended the festival for her third consecutive year.
“I lost my brother to suicide about 14 years ago,” said DeSousa, who published her book under the pen name John’s Sister. “I found that there weren’t a lot of resources out there for siblings who lose someone that way, so I wanted to help. I’ve always written since I was a little girl, so this was a way for me to do some good. The book talks about the grief I went through and also how I found some peace. There’s a great sense of community at the festival; I’ve met a lot of open-minded people and have always felt really welcome here.”
Sunday marked the first book festival for James Terzian, author of “Lord of Shadows Rises”, a martial arts fantasy novel he self-published through Amazon.com’s CreateSpace service.
Local chess master Allan Savage sold and signed copies of his books at his booth while also taking on all comers in chess, playing several games simultaneously.
Local bands The Nighthawks and the Rock-A-Sonics provided musical entertainment.
“I found the festival really enjoyable and lively,” said Kensington resident Quinn Loftus. “It’s nice to have people I can share my love of books with.”