St. Martin Book Fair Opens Today

Gillian Royes, happy to be on the island of her mother’s birth, is the Kingston-born creator of the “cozy” Shad detective mysteries, The Goat Woman from Largo Bay and The Sea Grape Tree (2014).
Gillian Royes, happy to be on the island of her mother’s birth, is the Kingston-born creator of the “cozy” Shad detective mysteries, The Goat Woman from Largo Bay and The Sea Grape Tree (2014).

SIMPSON BAY, St. Martin —“The general public, book lovers, culture chic people, families, friends, and visitors to our island” are invited to the Opening Ceremony of the 12th annual St. Martin Book Fair, Thursday, June 5, at 8 PM, Gate 1, Princess Juliana Int’l Airport (SXM), said Shujah Reiph, book fair coordinator.

Entrance to the opening program is free for everyone, said Reiph. “The friendly and professional clerks at the customer service desk, as you enter the airport building, are ready to escort everyone to Gate 1.”

The theme of the festival is “Crime&Punishment” and keynote speaker Francis Buk, from South Sudan, might be the perfect one to hold everyone’s rapt attention on Thursday evening. “His story of being a slave for 10 years and how that compared to his life of freedom before and after the brutal experience, will move many of us deeply,” said Jacqueline Sample, president of House of Nehesi Publishers (HNP).

“Other stories and workshops by about 28 authors and workshop leaders from around the world will also hold audiences captive for three book fair days,” said Sample.

“For example, the mother of detective story author Gillian Royes was born in St. Martin. Gillian is a Jamaican writer, who is not only happy to be at the book fair but is bringing family to see the Friendly Island for the first time,” said Sample.

Rapper, author, assistant professor Steve Gadet from Guadeloupe has a certain underground rock star appeal, and it was “the ACED people in Marigot that practically demanded that we invite him to speak to the program’s at-risk-youth,” said Reiph.

Gadet’s general session with teenagers will be in Concordia before the opening ceremony but his new book, and books by other visiting and St. Martin authors, will be available at the opening ceremony for the audience. There will be free parking at the parking lot of SXM Airport for book fair-goers on Thursday, said Reiph.

Grand Case attorney Patrica Chance-Duzant, who made her publishing debut at last year’s festival, is back with a copyrighting workshop on Saturday at USM, said Sample. But after receiving the book fair program booklet at the opening ceremony, no one will have to wait until Saturday to enjoy book fair activities, said Reiph.

According to the Book Fair Committee (BFC), most of the authors will visit schools throughout the island, and the prison in Point Blanche, on Thursday and Friday. BFC manages the school visits and the transportation for the guest authors.

The opening ceremony, sponsored by SXM Airport, is additionally packed with welcome words by book fair partners and patron, performances, book signings by famous and upcoming writers, refreshments, and the launch of the short story collection Love Songs Make You Cry – Second Edition by Lasana M. Sekou (St. Martin) and Marie-Galante Regards by Max Rippon (Marie-Galante, Guadeloupe), said Reiph.

Conscious Lyrics Foundation and HNP are the organizers of the 12th edition of the St. Martin Book Fair, in collaboration with St. Maarten Tourist Bureau, University of St. Martin, LCF Foundation, and St. Martin Tourist Office. The SXM Airport and SOS Radio are sponsors of the St. Martin Book Fair 2014. For more Book Fair activities, see

Shujah Reiph

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