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Author Kwame Mbalia Announced as 2021 Black Ink Book Festival Keynote Speaker



Black Ink: A Charleston African American Book Festival will host New York Times bestselling author Kwame Mbalia during its 2021 festival. The author of the middle-grade novel Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky will be featured as the keynote speaker. 

“Now more than ever, it is imperative to amplify Black voices,” Charleston Friends of the Library Director, Jeanell Marvin, said. “A middle-grade book featuring a young Black protagonist as the hero is a story that needs to be read by all ages-by everyone. We’re excited to have Mbalia inspire and interact with readers of the Charleston community.”

Mbalia’s sequel Tristan Strong Destroys the World will be published in October by Rick Riordan Presents/Disney-Hyperion. He is a graduate of Howard University and currently resides in North Carolina with his wife and children.

Mbalia will participate in a virtual book club to discuss his novels in August. The date will be announced soon. The Charleston Friends of the Library, which hosts Black Ink, will giveaway more than 30 of his books in anticipation of the book club event. Those interested in winning a book should enter online here. Two books per Charleston County Public Library branch will be given away. The deadline for the giveaway is July 29th.

The festival is to be hosted at the College Center at Trident Technical College in North Charleston and is scheduled for January 16th, 2021. In its fifth year, the annual event will feature dozens of African American authors, most from the Lowcountry and surrounding areas. More information about the event and author sign-up will be shared soon.

Black Ink Festival is a free event. However, it is not possible without the support of the community and sponsorships. If your organization or business is interested in making a donation or becoming a Black Ink sponsor, e-mail Jeanell Marvin at

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