By Tere Estorino
The 27th edition of the nation’s finest and largest literary gathering, Miami Book Fair International, presented by the Florida Center for the Literary Arts (FCLA) at Miami Dade College (MDC), will take place Nov. 14-21 at the college’s Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave. in downtown Miami.
The always-popular Street Fair runs Friday, Nov. 19 through Sunday, Nov. 21, with more than 200 exhibitors from around the country selling books in a festive atmosphere. This year, the fair will celebrate the literature and culture of Mexico.
Each year, the fair raises the bar of excellence by offering a fine roster of prize-winning authors, and this year will be no exception. Confirmed authors include tennis superstar Venus Williams, Harvard biologist and naturalist Edward O. Wilson, MacArthur Fellow and Haitian- American author Edwidge Danticat, screenwriter and author Nora Ephron, musician Patti Smith, novelist and memoirist Pat Conroy, local South Florida favorite Dave Barry, novelist Michael Cunningham, filmmaker John Waters, biographer and novelist Susan Cheever, humorist Ian Frazier, fight doctor Ferdie Pacheco, comics creator Charles Burns, NPR’s All Things Consideredhost Michele Norris, as well as Ann Beattie, Kate DiCamillo, Emilio Estefan, Jonathan Franzen and many others.
The fair again will treat book lovers to more than a week of cultural and educational activities, including the beloved “Evenings With…” series; IberoAmerican Authors program; Student Literary Encounters; Weekend Festival of Authors; popular Street Fair, Nov. 19-21, on the closed streets surrounding the campus; Comix Galaxy with Kids Comic Con and School of Comics; Children’s Alley, and much more.
Special Topic Panels will discuss current issues of the day, including the environment, immigration, and the financial crisis.
In addition, the fair maintains a strong commitment to literary voices of the international community, and always welcomes writers from Africa, Latin America, Europe, and the Caribbean.
This year’s program includes Sir Michael Caine (England), Salman Rushdie (India), Darren Shan (Ireland), Susan Abulhawa (Palestine), Zakes Mda (South Africa), Binyavanga Wainana (Kenya), Okey Ndibe (Nigeria), Chenjerai Hove (Zimbabwe), EC Osandu (Nigeria), Aappiah Anthony Kwame (Ghana/UK), and others.
The IberoAmerican program will present Paquito D’Rivera (Cuba-USA), Eduardo Sacheri (Argentina), Alberto Fuguet (Chile), Luis Leante (Spain), Claudia Piñeiro (Argentina), Pablo Simonetti (Chile), and more.
Caribbean writers featured include Earl Lovelace, Raoul Pantin, Gideon Hanoomansingh, Merle Hodge, Winston Maynard-Moderator, Lasana Kwesi, Diana McCaulay, and Geoffrey Philp. Confirmed Haitian writers are Miriam Chancy, Michele Voltaire Marcelin and Edwidge Danticat.
An exciting dimension to this year’s Book Fair includes a celebration of Mexico, commemorating the bicentennial of Mexico’s independence and the centennial of the Mexican revolution. The FCLA has partnered with the Mexican government, the Consulate General of Mexico in Miami and the Mexican Cultural Institute in Miami to honor these momentous occasions. Fairgoers will enjoy a grand pavilion dedicated to Mexican culture, and gallery exhibits by Mexican artists.
The diversity of Mexican literature will be represented by authors such as Laura Esquivel, Mario Bellatín, Gonzalo Celorio, Jorge Volpi, Estela Leñero, Natalia Toledo and others.
The celebration of Mexico also will include a local project with a focus on community involvement. During the fair, the Miami Book Fair and the Mexican Cultural Institute will collect new or gently used books and build a colossal spiral of books located on the fairgrounds in downtown Miami, and after the fair, these books will be donated to local jails. The goal is to have more books than prisoners inside jails.