Author Maria Cristina "Cristy" Marrero says she was surprised when she got a call from the Freeport Memorial Library asking her to read her book at an event for the public.
Marrero’s novel, “Las Imperfectas,” is written in Spanish — and that can be a problem for authors like herself trying to get recognition in the United States.
“There’s no New York Times bestseller list for Hispanic books,” says Marrero, a native of Puerto Rico who lives in Ridgewood, Queens. “It doesn’t matter how much you sell, you never have the same recognition.”
Marrero hopes that presenting her book and reading it to an audience at the Freeport library will help change that. The library will feature its first visits by Hispanic authors as a celebration of September as Hispanic Heritage Month.
Although the library has commemorated the occasion in past years with various activities relating to Hispanic culture, and Hispanic authors have visited its Spanish language book club, this will be the first time Hispanic authors who write books in Spanish will participate in a program for the general public.
Marrero will be featured on Sept. 21 presenting "Las Imperfectas.” Kianny Antigua, a native of the Dominican Republic, will present her novel “Calendula” on Sept. 28.
The authors will be reading from their books in both Spanish and English and taking questions. Both events are free.
“This is the first time we’ve done this — we wanted to try something a little different,” says Christopher Bisonette, a reference librarian involved in Freeport community outreach programs. He adds that he hopes it will lead to a series of these events on a more regular basis.
Bisonette says about 40 percent of the Freeport community is Hispanic and that there’s interest from that community in the library.
“A lot of people come in for English as a second language and citizenship classes, music concerts and bilingual story time in the children’s department,” Bisonette adds. There is also a collection of books written in Spanish.
“Las Imperfectas” tells the story of 10 Latin American women and “calls for women to accept who they are at a particular time,” Bisonette says. “There’s a lot of introspection.”
“Calendula” tells the story of an old man who cannot die. “It has to do with black magic and Santeria [an Afro-Cuban religious cult],” explains Antigua, who lives in New Hampshire.
Like Marrero, Antigua says she’s happy to be recognized by the library. She’s had nearly 20 books published but says, “It’s as if I were invisible. It’s hard to get published in our countries, if we’re not there, and here it’s difficult because we’re not writing in English.”
Cecilia Castillo, a Freeport resident and regular patron of the library, appreciates the library's efforts. She is a social worker who came to this country from El Salvador in 1985.
“I’ve been a member of the Spanish book club since 2002 when it started, and it’s been a great experience,” says Castillo, 58. “I like to read, and finding books in Spanish was like finding gold.” She adds, “The library is really thinking of celebrating our heritage."
Hispanic Heritage Month events
WHAT Maria Cristina Marrero reads from "Las Imperfectas"
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 21, Freeport Memorial Library, 144 W. Merrick Rd., Freeport
WHAT Kianny Antigua reads from "Calendula"
WHEN | WHERE 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 28, Freeport Memorial Library, 144 W. Merrick Rd., Freeport
INFO 516-379-3274, freeportlibrary.info