September 2009, Volume 13, Number 7

Cultural Spotlight

2009 Book Fair to welcome literary stars

So far, only a sampling of authors confirmed for the Nov. 8-15 Miami Book Fair International has been released, but already you get the sense that the 2009 Fair will be as impressive as every preceding year.

“We are looking forward to hosting another amazing Miami Book Fair this fall, especially during a time when people need the escape and release so much that only books can provide,” says Alina Interián, executive director of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts. 

Let’s take it in doses.

Confirmed: Former Vice President Al Gore. Awarded the Oscar and Nobel Prize since leaving the White House, Gore penned the New York Times best-seller The Assault of Reason.

Confirmed: Norman Podhoretz. This eminent neoconservative thinker was one of the original signatories of the “Statement of Principles” of the Project for the New American Century. In his latest release, Why Are Jews Liberals?, Podhoretz surveys the centuries of atrocities that, he says, have pushed most Jews to the left.

Confirmed: Margaret Atwood. Best known for the novels The Handmaid's Tale (1983) and The Robber Bride (1994), Atwood is the author of more than 25 volumes of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. This year she releases The Year of the Flood, a dystopic novel in the tradition of Orynx and Crake, a finalist for the Booker prize.

Confirmed: Jonathan Lethem. The author of seven novels (including Motherless Brooklyn and Fortress of Solitude), Lethem is a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship. He returns with the novel Chronic City.

Confirmed: Melvin Van Peebles. Nearly 40 years after breaking his way into public consciousness, the indefatigable godfather of African-American cinema presents a graphic novel version of his latest film, Confessions of a Ex-DoofusItchyFooted Mutha.

Confirmed: Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Once short-listed for the position of U.S. Surgeon General, Gupta is the chief medical correspondent for the health and medical unit at CNN. Gupta’s latest book is Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that are Saving Lives Against All Odds.

Confirmed: Roberto Ampuero, a prolific, award-winning Chilean novelist, columnist and University of Iowa lecturer who teaches creative writing in Spanish. His last book was the political detective story El caso Neruda.

Commitment to literature

The names alone tell you the scope of this 26th edition of Miami Book Fair International. These are just five of the expected 300 authors who will come to Miami for what is South Florida’s annual literary explosion.

The Miami Book Fair will treat book lovers to more than week of cultural and educational activities that includes readings and book-signings as well as activities for children in the Children’s Alley.

Tough economic times have resulted in some limitations of scale, however. The opening day ceremony and festivities, International Pavilions, Write Out Loud Café and Street Fair parade have been cancelled. Additionally, admission for the weekend Street Fair is going from $5 to $8 for the general public.

What remains unchanged is Miami Book Fair’s commitment to presenting a wide range of authors from all genres, political stripes and nationalities.

In addition to Ralph Nadar, Todd Oldman, Richard Powers and Barbara Kingsolver, the Fair will also welcome Spanish-language authors such as Juanita Castro, Boris Izaguirre, Edmundo Paz Soldán and Cristina Rivera Garza, among others.

“Even with our many challenges, we are confident fairgoers will enjoy this year’s program,” Interián said. “We are very proud of our efforts, and take our responsibility to promote reading and literacy very seriously.” 

Fair mainstays return

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.

This year, lovers of old and rare books can find their favorite antiquarian vendors at the Street Fair in a location very near to where the Antiquarian Annex would have been found in previous years.

“Best-selling writers, respected scholars, prize winners, artists and hundreds of thousands of book lovers will again converge in downtown Miami,” Interián said. “You won’t want to miss it. However, please consider supporting your book fair with a donation.”

— Gariot P. Louima

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