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From a very young age, I've been a lit enthusiast—both as an avid reader and aspiring fiction writer. After living in Crown Heights for several years without any local lit peers, I was thrilled to discover, in 2008, as a journalist reporting on neighborhood news, an influx of writers and editors in my own backyard. I'd come in contact with Franklin Park's owners (who'd opened their establishment in April 2008), new local merchants, longtime Caribbean-American and Hasidic residents and recent transplants, and I thought a reading series at the bar would be an enjoyable community event celebrating the neighborhood's diverse mix and a means to coalesce the burgeoning lit community.
Is there something particular to Brooklyn Lit beyond geography?
I feel like there's more camaraderie and collaboration between Brooklyn-based curators, booksellers, publishers and authors than you'd find in other places. Not to mention more laid back, enthusiastic and dedicated audiences.
Who's your favorite writer we've never heard of?
Well, you've heard of her in the sense that she's a Brooklyn Magazine and L contributor, but I'm really impressed by Catherine Lacey's fiction and am eagerly awaiting a story collection from her. She's a Franklin Park alum and I've recommended her to other curators. I think she'd be a publisher's dream—her work is thought-provoking, gripping and displays an inventive prose style and distinctive voice, not to mention a sly sense of humor. These are all qualities we value at Franklin Park.
Do you also write yourself?
I've attempted fiction, which is mostly what I read, but I've only published journalism. For now, I'm more comfortable with reported pieces and I'm searching for a new literary project (abandoned that novel I'd been struggling with for over five years).
What's your day job?
I'm doing some freelance editing and writing, but I'm looking for a full-time job in publishing. If you know of anything... :)
What impact do you think Brooklyn Lit has had on the publishing world at large?
I think that risk-taking indie publishers like Akashic and Meliville House, as well as the owners of our thriving indie bookstores and curators of local reading series, have expanded the reach of innovative writing and authors from outside the margins of mainstream lit. I think Brooklyn-based readings showcase a more diverse range of voices, writers from a variety of cultural backgrounds.
What does the future look like for Brooklyn Lit?
I could give a really long answer, since our borough is rapidly growing in influence around the lit world, but one important change I think we'll see is a shift from the LES and East Village bars as reading venues to Brooklyn ones—especially since bars and clubs receptive to arts programming are opening here all the time