October 2008, Volume 12, Number 8

COVERSTORY


2008 Miami Book Fair International

Now in its 25th year, Miami Book Fair International continues to demonstrate why it has been a success since its inception.

More than 350 authors from diverse backgrounds will participate in the event, which is presented by the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College from Nov. 9 – 16.

Among the literary stars set to greet more than 300,000 visitors to MDC’s Wolfson Campus this year are Pulitzer Prize-winner Junot Díaz, Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott and American Book Award-winner Sandra Cisneros.

Also making appearances at the 2008 Fair are social critic Gore Vidal; novelist, playwright, poet and critic Joyce Carol Oates; and educator and philosopher Dr. Cornel West (who will share a stage with political commentator and author Tavis Smiley).

“When I started working with the Book Fair it was already a highly respected event that was loved by the community,” said Alina Interián, executive director of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, who joined the team in 1989.

Known as Books by the Bay, the first Fair squashed skepticism by publishers, agents and potential sponsors by hosting dozens of writers and more than 130 exhibitors over two days for its more than 25,000 visitors.

“It just kept growing from there, and before we knew it, it began to be recognized as a model for book fairs popping up across the country,” Interián said. “We had no idea the magnitude it would eventually get to.”

It is the largest and widely regarded as the finest literary gathering in America.

But it’s not just the line-up of big names that draw big crowds.

The festival of authors also includes up-and-coming writers such as David Wroblewski, who has been causing quite a stir nationally with his bestselling debut novel The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

“We are proud to offer diverse programming every year,” Interián said.

Among the new offerings this year is Comix Galaxy, which will present programs on graphic novels and the comics world. It will include a day of panels for librarians, educators, creators and publishing professionals; activities for children and teens; and sessions with creators/authors.

The Cultural Fringes Festival, also new this year, will feature South Florida’s premier and emerging arts groups presenting theatre, film, dance, fine arts, photography and music programs celebrating literature and the fair’s history.

Favorites, such as the Festival of Authors, where more than 300 authors make the campus come alive with readings and panel discussion, are also back. And visitors will once again be able spend an evening with one of their favorite authors during one of the Evenings With… presentations.

The popular Children’s Alley, an amazing literary adventure for young readers, will again feature storytelling, puppets, theatrical performances, educational games and hands-on activities.

Book lovers will once more be treated to the Street Fair, which is the Fair’s culminating literary extravaganza. This three-day outdoor festival will gather hundreds of booksellers and exhibitors, offering fairgoers the opportunity to browse new and favorite titles from major publishing houses, small presses, scholarly imprints and foreign publishers.

Lovers of old and rare books will find themselves drawn to the Antiquarian Annex where they will find more than 10,000 collectible items from historic hand-made volumes to signed first editions. There, visitors will also find colorful circus posters, sheet music, antique maps and prints, original manuscripts and vintage postcards.

As in past years, the Spanish-language IberoAmerican Authors program will bring in the best of Spanish and Latin American writers to discuss their work. The International Village will showcase the literature, fine arts, culture, wines and folkloric traditions of other countries. And, the Florida Center for the Literary Arts’ Write Out Loud Café will again be the gathering place for South Florida’s hottest talent. The Café will showcase poets and writers of fiction, nonfiction, and plays, plus performance artists, monologists and everyone in between.

“There is literally something for everybody,” Interián said.

— Pilar Ulibarri de Rivera


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