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Countdown to ecstay: The Miami Book Fair is two weeks away!

November 1, 2011

Roseanne Cash

To a lit-loving grown-up like yours truly, Miami Book Fair International is my version of Christmas, a time of celebration, gratitude, and transcendence. I can hardly wait for the next fortnight to go by.

And the day when the full Book Fair schedule goes up is like the first robin of spring — a harbinger of great things to come.

In fact, the entire Fairgoers Guide is online at the Miami Book Fair International website, where we can at last view with awe the usual unbelievable wealth of authors, books, and literary events set for the week of Nov. 13-20.

This year’s Fair opens on Sunday, Nov. 13, with an Afternoon with Christopher Paolini, the wunderkind fantasy novelist, and Roseanne Cash, country music royalty and noted short-story writer, essayist, children’s author and memoirist.

William Kennedy

The remaining Evening with… series participants include literary MVP Calvin Trillin (humorist, food writer, travel writer, journalist extraordinaire); medical anthropologist and humanitarian Dr. Paul Farmer (Haiti After the Earthquake); singer and actor Harry Belafonte; political commentator David Brooks; Navy Seal and humanitarian Eric Robert Greitens; Pulitzer-winning journalist Ron Suskind; Southern lesbian novelist Dorothy Allison.

The evening events continue on Friday with An Evening with ADULTS!, featuring writer Adam Mansbach and illustrator Richard Cortes, creators of the runaway children’s book parody, Go the F*** to Sleep, and concludes with An Evening with Nicole Krauss, among the most distinguished younger novelists in the United States.

For more information on the weeknight events, visit the Authors Sessions page at the Fairgoers Guide.

Your average distinguished literary festival could congratulate itself for that week of great authors, dust itself off, and go home for a well-earned rest. But wait! Miami Book Fair International is just getting started!

This year’s featured guest country is China. In partnership with Miami Dade College’s

Dan Clowes

Confucious Institute, the Fair presents a wealth of literary and cultural activities at a special China Pavilion. Chinese and Chinese-American writers will be on hand for a number of discussions, and there will be an International Symposium of Chinese Language, Culture and Communication on Friday.

Of course, the fair features its customary cornucopia of literary and related activities, including Comics and Graphic Novels, Children’s Alley (and beyond!), Arts at the Fair, Twilight Tastings, and the — let’s just say it — glorious two-day Street Fair, with its dozens and dozens and dozens of book vendors, publishers booths, and a performance by the ever-popular (though no one can figure out why) Rock Bottom Remainders.

And that final two days, Saturday and Sunday, contain what for me has always been the heart of the Miami Book Fair, the seemingly endless author appearances, panel discussions, and book signings featuring more great local, national, and international authors than any one boy could ever take in.

Nicole KraussI find myself wandering the streets around the downtown Miami campus of Miami Dade College (go here for map and directions) in a kind of ecstatic delirium, lurching from one author event to the next, trying to decide which to catch, which to regrettably (damn!) miss.

This year the choices are going to be just as hard as always, with hundreds — literally! hundreds! — of authors on hand Saturday and Sunday.

Here’s just a small sampling (go here for a complete authors list, and  here for a weekend schedule): Campbell McGrath, Sen. Bob Graham, Jeffrey Eugenides, Russell Banks, Francisco Goldman, Diana Abu-Jabr, James Gleick, Mark Kurlansky, Colson Whitehead, Robert Pinsky, Daniel Clowes, Lev Grossman, Dave Barry, Karen Russell, Andy Borowitz….

(Deep breath!) William Kennedy, Chuck Palahniuk, Joe McGinnis, Michael Ondaatje, James Grippando, Robert K. Massie, Steve Inskeep, Tea Obreht, George McGovern, Pablo Medina, Randall Kennedy, Jacquelyn Mitchard,

Andy Borowitz

Eizabeth Berg, Dyan Cannon, Susan Orlean, Alexandra Styron, Randall Robinson…

In that list you will find more than one Pulitzer, Booker or National Book Award winner, quite a few MacArthur Prize geniuses, an actress, an NPR personality, novelists of all genres, commentators of all political stripes, and pretty much more great literary fun than you thought possible.

If, that is, you’ve never been to the Miami Book Fair before. They put this thing on every year, and it’s always a rolling miracle of literary love. See you there.

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