FESTIVAL OF BOOKS: In Celebration of Reading

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Julie Otsuka, left, and Sunny Seki met with readers at the Kinokuniya tent. (Photos by MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

By MIA NAKAJI MONNIER
Rafu Staff Writer

Festival volunteers pose for a picture at the L.A. Times tent.

More than 100,000 people filled the USC campus last weekend for the 17th annual L.A. Times Festival of Books.

Voracious readers, aspiring writers, families, and people curious to learn how to fold a life-size origami Yoda browsed the hundreds of booths and stages in fortuitously beautiful weather. Exhibitors ranged from publishing giant Penguin to local indie booksellers such as Vromans, Skylight, and Book Soup.

A number of independent, specialty publishing houses focusing on Japanese and Asian stories also made their mark at the festival. Stone Bridge Press and Chin Music Press shared a small booth dotted with gems like Tomo (Stone Bridge), an anthology of Japanese young adult short fiction and poetry published in memory of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and Where We Know (Chin Music), a collection of stories about New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Kinokuniya Books partnered with Tuttle Publishing to present a booth literally overflowing with books: Japanese literature in translation, manga, books on origami and Japanese cooking, and beautifully illustrated children’s books like Sunny Seki’s Yuko-chan and the Daruma Doll. Crowds gathered to meet signing authors Julie Otsuka (PEN/Faulkner Award winner for The Buddha in the Attic) and Dale Furutani (The Curious Adventures of Sherlock Holmes in Japan).

Kaya Press, which specializes in stories from the Asian diaspora, attracted a steady stream of children and hipsters alike to its literary lounge, where visitors could get temporary tattoos, experiment with typewriters, and assemble books of their own.

The festival will return to USC next April 20 and 21 for another year in celebration of reading.

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