The Storyteller Bookstore at VIP Bazar hosted a captivating event for book lovers on Saturday, November 20. The event featured Benjamin Alire Sáenz, author of NYT bestseller Aristotle and Dante Uncover the Secrets of the Universe and Aristotle and Dante dive into the waters of the world as well as Rachel Lynn Solomon, internationally acclaimed young adult author by Today, Tonight, Tomorrow. The event titled “The Rainbow Compass” was hosted by Mayura Misra, owner of The Storyteller, and Simon and Schuster India. It all started with a vibrant cosplay contest, followed by an interactive pop culture tournament that wowed audiences.
The two author sessions moderated by Chaitanya Srivastava, from St. Xaviers College in Mumbai and owner of the bookstagram account @chai_n_books, addressed topics related to identity, representation, family and LGBTQIA + literature. t2 sat down and absorbed everything …
Benjamin Alire Sáenz on Aristotle and Dante, LGBTQIA + and family
Excited to be in conversation with his fans in India through a virtual event for the very first time, Sáenz sat down for a conversation about his latest outing, Aristotle and Dante dive into the waters of the world, the long-awaited sequel to the famous Aristotle and Dante discover the secrets of the universe. Sáenz discussed the germination of the titular characters, expressing that nothing appeared out of nowhere but essentially came from a place inside of oneself.
“I’ve known Ari and Dante all my life because they both lived in me. Ari is the fictionalization of who I am. At least part of me. Then there is a part of me that is Dante and I have always been like Dante. There are versions of it, ”Sáenz said.
He has explained the importance of self-acceptance during his journey, particularly as a member of the LGBTQIA + community and attempts to explore the same through the novel. Documenting his trajectory from writing poetry to writing novels for young adults, Sáenz recalled his love for both and the process of transmuting life and poetry into a love story between two innocent teenagers and tender.
While discussing creating a healthy home environment for his characters and portraying parents in YA novels, Sáenz firmly stated, “In most novels for young adults, the parents are absent or they are people. horrible or dysfunctional or something, but I wanted to say that there are families where the son loves their parents and the parents love their son and I wanted to put that in there. He pointed out that more often than not, many gay children perceive their parents to hate them, and he wanted to mold parents who love their children, who accept them and will support them. “If they’re not their parents, someone else will love and support them. There is someone in the world who will do it for you.
Rachel Lynn Solomon on Jewish Youth Representation as Young Adult
Discussing her YA novels published under Simon and Schuster, Rachel Lynn Solomon engaged in a warm conversation about representation, romance and literature. Solomon said her gradual transition to romantic comedy made her the happiest. His book Today, Tonight, Tomorrow is about two rival overperformers who realize in 24 hours on the last day of senior year that they are in love with each other. Growing up surrounded by literature where the Jewish presence was primarily evidenced in Holocaust literature, Solomon sought to break that chain. Speaking about the Jewish portrayal in YA novels, she added that something really important to her as a Jewish author was to write Jewish characters.
Her first book was released in 2018, titled I will miss you when I’m gone. For the characters in the book, Judaism is an integral part of who they are. “From that point on, I made a vow to write only Jewish characters,” she said. She developed this response from Jewish and non-Jewish readers regarding the lack of modern novel books with Jewish characters as well as the additional exposure to Judaism through her novels strengthened her resolve. Based on these cumulative experiences, Salomon has since sought to help increase the visibility of Jewish figures and culture in the modern YA genre.
Photos: Rashbehari Das