The fourth floor of Union Square’s Barnes and Noble was packed with fans who arrived hours in advance of Junot Díaz’s 7 p.m. appearance on the day his new book was released. Bookstore workers, who declined to give their names, told Colorlines.com that more than 400 chairs were set up to host anxious audience members, and then allowed a standing room only crowd to join those lucky enough to get seats–up to 1,000 people in total by one estimate. Workers then enlisted the help of the New York Police Department to begin managing some 200 people who showed up between about 6 and 7 p.m. to hear Díaz present his new book, "This is How You Lose Her."
Fans waited in two disorganized lines on the third floor, only to hear that they wouldn’t gain entry to Díaz’s talk and book-signing. As Díaz made his way through the third floor, he greeted friends and strangers who were not able to get a seat, and quickly made his way up the escalator as disappointed admirers looked on. Those who didn’t get a fourth floor spot were visibly disappointed, and as some tried to make their way up the escalator, NYPD officers stopped them. The last time the bookstore’s fourth floor was filled to capacity was during Tina Fey’s reading almost a year-and-a-half ago.
If you want to guarantee a spot to see and hear Díaz, he’ll be the keynote speaker at Facing Race, which takes place in Baltimore November 15-17. Díaz will join a vast group of people who work and report on racial justice issues at the conference, organized by Colorlines.com publisher, the Applied Research Center.