Writer; Owner, Deja Vu Book Lounge
ABOUT: Born and raised in Spanish Harlem, Deborah Cardona is a young novelist who has translated her experiences in the neighborhood into urban novels that are true products of this time and place. Her books not only reveal the hardships of growing up in El Barrio in the twenty-first century, but also encourage readers to make decisions that will change their lives for the better. With a contemporary Latina aesthetic and plenty of spunk to spare, Cardona injects everything she does with a jolt of energy. Her hope is that this energy will be infectious, encouraging other young artists to realize their potential and participate in the community's many arts-related events and programs.
COMMUNITY VISIONS: “People don’t support a clean environment here-- they support the garbage,” Cardona reports with a hint of resignation. “Why did I open up a bookstore? Because the neighborhood doesn’t have anything.” For years, Cardona has fought relentlessly to further involve El Barrio’s general community in the arts. However, despite her varied approaches, she has been repeatedly disappointed in the community’s response. Her former business, Deja Vu Book Lounge, a bookstore and sensual boutique, was an eclectic stop for artists of all varieties and intellectuals with an urban edge. The store fervently supported the local arts; it sold works by many local authors, hosted open mics featuring local spoken-word artists and rappers, and sponsored culinary events promoting El Barrio’s cuisine. Unfortunately, due to funding problems, this unique East Harlem destination has closed down.