First day of Los Angeles Times Festival of Books offers a little something for everyone


President Trump’s immigration policies, L.A.’s homeless crisis, the women’s movement and the culture of food were just a few of the topics covered during the first day of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the USC campus.

The 23rd annual festival, which celebrates reading and storytelling, is an opportunity for thousands of Southern California residents and others to connect with some of their favorite writers. The two-day event features lectures, workshops and discussions with authors, journalists and celebrities.

Authors participating in this year’s festival, which continues Sunday, include Junot Díaz, Walter Mosley, Reza Aslan, Maria Shriver and Leslie Odom Jr. There were also musical performances and food trucks.


On Saturday, panel discussions included Los Angeles Times columnist Steve Lopez and photographer Francine Orr discussing their coverage of the city’s homeless crisis, singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams talking about her craft and writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o conversing about his book “Wrestling with the Devil,” a prison memoir.

Trump was also part of some discussions.

Hundreds of Latinos – many of them immigrants and the children of immigrants – filled the Ronald Tutor Campus Center, waiting to hear the familiar voice of Jorge Ramos, the Spanish-language news anchor for Univision who for years has reported on illegal immigration.

Ramos has been a fixture in the lives of Daisy López and her mother, Susana Arriaga, who emigrated from Mexico in the early 1980s. On Saturday morning, López got the opportunity to share that — and some Mexican candy — with Ramos at the festival, where he was talking about his book “Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump Era.”

“In your book, you say you feel like a stranger, but I want to tell you that in my house, you were never a stranger,” López said, alternating between Spanish and English. “You were a constant.”

In his book, Ramos recounts being kicked out of a news conference by then-presidential candidate Trump in 2015, who told him to “go back to Univision.”

David Kipen, left, speaks with journalist Jorge Ramos during a panel Saturday at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times )

One of those waiting in line Saturday to see Ramos was Carolina Gamero, 28,who was a volunteer with Libros Schmibros Lending Library in Boyle Heights for about six months. Ramos was scheduled to be part of a conversation with David Kipen, who founded the library.

“I’m a fan of Jorge Ramos,” said Gamero, whose parents are immigrants from Peru. “I think his reporting brings a lot of gravity and understanding to our times, especially for what we’re facing right now, like attacks to immigrant communities.”

Throughout his discussion with Kipen, Ramos talked about his experience as an immigrant, while some audience members listened through headphones to a Spanish translation of his remarks. Ramos talked about Trump and the hate he seems to inspire in some of the president’s supporters.

“That’s why I feel like a stranger. I wish I wouldn’t feel like a stranger, but I’m sure many of you feel like strangers in your own country,” Ramos told the audience. “When you have a candidate who tells you, ‘Go back to Univision,’ he didn’t really say that. What he really said was, ‘Go back to Mexico,’ right?”

The crowd nodded in agreement.

“When the president of the United States makes racist remarks, that is not normal. It is a racist remark to say that Mexican immigrants are criminals and rapists,” Ramos said.

He added that “neutrality at this moment should not be allowed.”

“As journalists we have the responsibility to report reality as it is, not as I wish it would be,” Ramos said. “When human dignity is at stake, I think we have to take a stand. And as a journalist, if we don’t do that then who is going to do it? The most important social responsibility that we have is to question those who are in power.”


As the first day of the festival drew to a close, a crowd gathered to listen to rhythm and blues trio Kinglii perform. Some danced along with the music, while others snapped photos.

The festival continues Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission is free; advance tickets to events have a $2 processing fee. To get tickets, visit