Miami Book Fair International: An embarrassment of riches, again
Miami Book Fair International is at last upon us (yay!). It’s a bit smaller this year, thanks to the sputtering economy, but amidst the cornucopia of writers, events, children’s activities and other literary festivities I doubt many fairgoers will notice.
With more than 300 writers (Nobel laureates! Rock stars! Celebrity chefs!) coming for the eight-day festival (Nov. 8-15), you’ll still be forced to choose among which great, inspiring, controversial or entertaining authors you want to see. On Sat., Nov. 14 at noon, for example, will it be novelist Robert Olen Butler, children’s writer Peter Lerangis, Clinton biographer Taylor Branch, or a Tigertail spoken-word session for teens?
And that’s not to mention the authors scheduled for 11:30 (Alexandria Avakian, Josh Neufeld, Tim Dorsey, Stuart Weisberg, among others) or 12:30 (David Hajdu, Shilpa Agarwal, Max Frankel, and Joyce Carol Oates, to name but a few). Decisions will have to be made!
“The Fair this year is very strong in spite of the economic challenges,” says Mitchell Kaplan, owner of Books & Books bookstore in Coral Gables, co-founder of the fair. “Our lineup is as strong as ever and we’re expecting a very vibrant literary week. We still believe it’s one of the best values around.”
The fair starts on Sunday, Nov. 8. with An Inaugural Afternoon with poet Elizabeth Alexander at 5 p.m., followed by An Evening with Margaret Atwood, Canada’s most distinguished novelist at 7:30 p.m. Premiere author readings follow each night of the week: acclaimed food writer Ruth Reichl and novelist Barbara Kingsolver on Monday; memoirist Jeannette Walls on Tuesday; novelist Richard Powers on Wednesday; actress and writer Isabella Rossellini on Thursday; and Nobel Prize-winning Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk on Friday. Friday evening also features a panel on Francophone literature
The weekend Street Fair also starts Fri., Nov. 13, running through Sun., Nov. 15. The list of authors is breathtakingly varied: former vice president Al Gore, Republican pollster Frank Luntz, and Green Party gadfly Ralph Nader; crime novelists Jeff Lindsay, Paul Levine, Dennis Lehane; nonfiction writers Gwen Ifil, John Freeman, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Tracy Kidder, Ann Louise Bardach; literary superstars Francine Prose, Mary Karr, Sherman Alexie, Madison Smartt Bell, Jonathan Lethem, Mary Gordon, Jayne Anne Phillips and Lydia Davis; plus entertainers-with-books like John Hodgman, Larry Wilmore and Iggy Pop.
And many, many more — plus Children’s Alley, with innumerable activities and authors appearances; Comix Gallery, where an array of cutting-edge graphic novelists and comic book creators will be on hand; and the Ibero-American Authors Program, with the best in established and up-and-coming Spanish-language writers. And more than 250 publishers and booksellers in outdoor exhibitors booths, food vendors, not to mention hundreds of thousands of fellow book lovers.
“It will be a more contained fair this year as we have put some favorite components on ‘pause’ until next year,” says Alina Interian, executive director of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts. “But we are confident fairgoers will enjoy this year’s program as much as ever.”
Really, it’s an embarrassment of riches. America’s first book fair remains, in its 26th year, the best. See you there.
Miami Book Fair International takes place at the Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College, 300 NE 2nd Ave., in downtown Miami. For a complete schedule, plus prices and ticketing information, visit the excellent Miami Book Fair International website. Evening with sessions are $10, while admission to the Street Fair is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and free to 18 and under.