Literary Mecca Arises Again at MDC
As they do each fall when the seasons change, hundreds of thousands of book lovers from around the globe will flock to Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus for the 29th annual Miami Book Fair International. Running for eight event-packed days from Nov. 11 to 18, the renowned Fair will host more than 400 authors presenting their books in more than 150 concurrent readings.
Produced by The Center for Literature and Theatre at Miami Dade College, the Fair is a trailblazer that has long attracted the interest of the nation’s top literary critics. The New York Times has even noted that “the current wave of book festivals in many ways stems from the Miami Book Fair, which got its start in 1983 and has come to be the model for others.”
Each year, hundreds of thousands of people visit the Fair, perusing books at the 200-plus exhibitors’ booths that line the streets of Downtown Miami. No genre nor any reader’s interest is ever left behind, with works ranging from novels and nonfiction to poetry, graphic novels and children’s books. Readings cover every topic under the sun, including art, lifestyle and even cooking.
This year’s Fair will begin with a bang as iconoclastic literary giant Tom Wolfe opens the beloved “Evenings With” series. A regular Fair participant who has called the MDC extravaganza “the literary Mecca of the Western World,” Wolfe will read at 6 p.m. on Nov. 11 from his new book, Back to Blood, which is set in Miami. Following his talk, there will be a screening of the documentary Tom Wolfe Gets Back to Blood. Also opening the Fair is a presentation that same evening by fashion designer Isabel Toledo and her illustrator husband, Ruben.
The “Evenings With,” which feature the most popular and important writers of our time, then continue throughout the week. Over the years, the series has showcased the talents of 13 Nobel Laureates, including Orhan Pamuk, Al Gore, Toni Morrison, Octavio Paz and Elie Wiesel. This year’s stellar cast of authors features kids’ writer Lemony Snicket, Pulitzer Prize winner and MacArthur Foundation Fellow Junot Díaz, novelist and poet Sandra Cisneros, journalist and memoirist Mirta Ojito in conversation with Plum TV CEO Nicholas Lehman, historian Robert Caro, memoirist Adam Gopnik, publisher Robert Well in conversation with political analyst Alan Ryan and novelist Emma Donoghue. Other renowned authors scheduled to appear include Martin Amis, Peter Carey, Jo Nesbo, Justin Cronin, Jeffrey Toobin, Pam Houston, Chris Hayes, Anne Lamott, Bill O’Reilly and Jess Walter, to name just a few.
“The Fair has been bringing brilliant authors and thinkers to South Florida since the beginning,” said Alina Interián, executive director of MDC Cultural Programs. “We are so proud and happy to celebrate 29 years of great books with everyone in our community. We are open to all, and have something for everyone.”
Other great authors appearing at the Fair this year include Michael Grunwald, Etgar Keret, Molly Ringwald, Camille Paglia, Naomi Wolf, Dana Gioia and Kevin Young.
Spanish-speaking literary voices will be highlighted during the Fair’s IberoAmerican Authors Program, which will feature Homero Aridjis (Mexico), Mayra Santos-Febres (Puerto Rico), Santiago Roncagliolo (Peru) and Abilio Estévez (Cuba-Spain), among many others.
A delicious new addition to this year’s Fair will be chefs with cookbooks, who will participate in cooking demos at the College’s cutting-edge Miami Culinary Institute, which opened to great fanfare in April 2011.
A Bold New Generation
Encouraging a love of reading across all generations, the Fair will welcome more than 20,000 school children and college students to its events, where they meet with writers at Miami Dade College and around the city. In addition to hearing great authors, students in Miami-Dade County Public Schools receive thousands of books, distributed free of charge as part of The Center’s numerous efforts to promote literacy throughout South Florida.
This year, The Center is adding and expanding upon its past successes by bringing all of its varied literacy and learning programs under one banner called Generation Genius, an interdisciplinary umbrella that unites reading and writing, storytelling, art-making, music, theater and other activities. Leading to intellectual enrichment and discovery in a wide range of subject areas, Generation Genius endeavors focus on English, math, history, geography, the arts and sciences, in addition to other disciplines.
“Our goal is to foster literacy within our community, rearing the next generation of engaged world citizens,” said Lissette Méndez, program coordinator at The Center.
Helping broaden and strengthen global connections, this year’s Fair will focus on Paraguay in its international pavilion. A perennial favorite for fairgoers, this exhibition space features a different country each year, highlighting the culture, literature, arts and rich heritage of our neighbors near and far.
To learn more about the world of options at this year’s Miami Book Fair International, see www.miamibookfair.com.