Upcoming BIO conference : what I'm looking for

CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue, NYC
While I'm looking for biography and memoir about extraordinary people and experiences, I'm first attracted to their books because the subjects are in a field that interests me: music, fine art, travel, NYC history, Americana, nostalgia, TCM movie stars. These books are my pleasure reading: popular biographies, not academic. But as a literary agent scouting for something new at the BIO conference (May 18-20 in NYC), I’ll be looking for popular biography that’s intriguing or provocative as well as appealing to me. I can’t represent a book I don’t like.

At the moment I’m drawn to stories of immigrants in the news, not those from the past. Even though I’m opposed to illegal immigration because of the cost to citizens, I like the immigrant workers, students and teachers I meet in NYC. I like them a lot. They step up to the job in ways others do not, their survival instincts are sharp,
and they tolerate insults and setbacks that most of us don’t. What brought them here? War, poverty, natural disasters? What are their stories? Immigrant authors are publishing fiction, but  who’s writing the biographies and memoirs? I’ve received queries from international writers with interesting lives and careers in the U.S. but their manuscripts were more about life in their home countries. This doesn't interest me; what happened before the main story is too tangential to their American story. I want to read about how they came here and their interactions with Americans. If a biography of the entire life is the wrong form for American readers (and publishers), a pared down slice-of-life story with a big event focus would be more relatable and meaningful story for me and others. We would want to know something about their lives before they arrived here, but only a summary of it with relevant details, as in TV and movie narratives.

The BIO conference has an exciting lineup of authors. I'm looking forward to the panels and hope to meet writers with common interests. A full list of topics I'm seeking can be seen at my this link to Areas of Interest & Query Guidelines.