“Hotel Rwanda” Manager Headlines Third Annual Literary Festival

Rusesabagina Memoir One of Three New Books Debuting at Pratt Library on Sat., April 8

SOURCE: CityLit Festival
In his new book, Rusesabagina draws parallels between what took place and other genocides throughout history in an attempt to explain why entire nations go mad.
Paul Rusesabagina, the manager portrayed by Don Cheadle in the award-winning motion picture “Hotel Rwanda,” debuts his much-anticipated memoir An Ordinary Man at CityLit Festival III on Saturday, April 8, at the Enoch Pratt Free Library. The discussion and book signing in Baltimore concludes the day-long festival co-sponsored by the Pratt Library and CityLit Project.

“The CityLit Festival showcases a variety of authors from Baltimore and beyond,” said Dr. Carla Hayden, Executive Director of the Enoch Pratt Free Library, in a prepared statement to the press. “The Pratt is proud to host this unique event, bringing writers and readers of all ages together to talk about books and literature.”

Rusesabagina has been called the “Oskar Schindler of Africa” for his heroic actions during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. While mass murder raged outside the gates of the Hotel des Milles Collines, he confronted extremist Hutu militiamen with tact, reverence, and cunning deceit while protecting more than 1,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Never-before-reported elements of the atrocities are described in An Ordinary Man, including the deplorable behavior of U.N. peacekeeping troops. Rusesabagina draws parallels between what took place and other genocides throughout history in an attempt to explain why entire nations go mad.

The film “Hotel Rwanda” will be screened at 12:30 p.m. in Wheeler Auditorium with host Sandi Mallory, WEAA 88.9FM assistant general manager and host of "The Morning Journey." Dr. Hayden will introduce Mr. Rusesabagina at 3:00 p.m.

An Ordinary Man is just one of three new books debuting at CityLit Festival. Laura Lippman unveils a collection of crime-fiction she edited titled Baltimore Noir. Contributors Dan Fesperman, Lisa Respers France, Rob Hiaasen, and Charlie Stella join Lippman. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the modern-era Orioles first championship, and baseball writer Tom Adelman will pitch his new book Black and Blue: The Golden Arm, the Robinson Boys, and the 1966 World Series That Stunned America.

What is or isn’t appropriate for teens to read, a topic of much debate, will be addressed bt the author of a book that recently sparked controversy shares her side of the story directly with Baltimore area parents and teens in a discussion called “Walking the Line, Writing for Teens.” Carolyn Mackler appears in the wake of the Carroll County School District’s banning, and partial reinstatement, of her highly praised The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things. She’ll be accompanied by Baltimore author Jonathon Scott Fuqua, whose latest offering is King of the Pygmies, which Teenreads.com called “worth reading and discussing, as it is one of too-few teen novels that deal compassionately...with mental illness.”

For children and families, the morning kicks off with a parade to the library’s Children’s Garden led by Rainey and Jazz the Dream Dog, the magical pooch with a rainbow tail. Jazz and Rainey teach youngsters about themselves and the magic of self-empowerment in educational, inspirational stories. Later, author Louise Borden and illustrator Allan Drummond share their book, The Journey That Saved Curious George, which tells the real life war-time adventure of H.A. Rey and Margret Rey, creators of the popular Curious George series of children’s books. As Nazis approached Paris in 1940, the couple fled the city on bicycles with little more in their possession than the sketches and story outlines for a curious little monkey then named Fifi.

Also appearing is Thomas Glave, assistant professor of English, general literature, and rhetoric at SUNY Binghamton, who will discuss Words to Our Now: Imagination and Dissent, a collection of essays on his experiences as a politically committed, gay Jamaican American. Acclaimed poet Tyehimba Jess traces Huddie William Ledbetter’s passage into blues legend “Leadbelly.” Poets & Writers magazine recently named Jess one of 18 new poets on the rise.

Those concerned that reading is at risk can delve into the issue with Michael Cader, founder of publishersmarketplace.com, and David Kipen, former book review editor of the San Francisco Chronicle and new Director of Literature at the National Endowment for the Arts. They will explore where the culture of literature is headed in a discussion entitled “State of the Lit Address” moderated by Barbara M. Simon, President of the Maryland State Poetry and Literary Society.

The festival also includes poetry readings, a poetry workshop, a cartooning workshop, and an open mic. Authors even have a chance to “pitch their lit” and promote their books directly to attendees. Dozens of authors, presses, and literary arts organizations will be on hand in the Main Hall’s Literary Marketplace.

The CityLit Festival is funded in part by a grant from Mayor Martin O’Malley and the Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts through the Creative Baltimore Fund: Helping Support Baltimore’s Cultural Community. It is made possible by the financial support of its co-sponsor Enoch Pratt Free Library. The event takes place from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, April 8, at the Central Library, 400 Cathedral Street. The festival is free and open to the public. For more information, contact the library at 410.396.5494 or CityLit Project at 410.274.5691.

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This story was published on March 7, 2006.