Black writers prominently featured at Book Fair
Black authors, including popular novelist Walter Mosley, Miami-based Haitian author Edwidge Danticat and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Eugene Robinson will be among scores of prominent presenters at the Miami Book Fair International.
Celebrating its 27th anniversary, the fair takes place Nov. 14-21 at the Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami.
Fort Lauderdale resident Milca Esdaille, 50, a former board member of the Harlem Book Fair, applauds the Miami event for its inclusion of black authors.
“This is my favorite event in Miami,” said Esdaille, who attended a recent community event that presented the highlights of this year’s fair. “Any time I get to see authors that I am curious about or follow is inspiring.”
Black authors, representing prominent and bourgeoning writers from the United States, the Caribbean and Africa, will appear throughout the festival of author presentations, panel discussions and events for children and teens.
“The strength of Miami’s community is its diversity,” said Mitchell Kaplan, founder of Books & Books and the Miami Book Fair International. Kaplan, who also serves as the book fair’s chairman, organized the Nov. 4 book fair preview held at Books & Books in Coral Gables.
Book fair events of interest to black audiences will begin at 7 p.m. Monday with a live telecast of hip-hop icon Jay-Z in conversation with Princeton professor and author Cornel West. The discussion will focus on Jay-Z’s first book, Decoded, which offers a first-hand account of the 10-time Grammy Award winner. The free event will be streamed from the New York Public Library. Book fair audiences can see the discussion in the auditorium, Building 1, Second Floor, Room 1261.
On Thursday, Robinson, associate editor and columnist of the Washington Post, is a featured speaker in the book fair’s “An Evening With…” series. His newest book, Disintegration: the Splintering of Black America,” explores 140 years of black history and discusses what he says is the splintering of black America into four distinct groups: a small elite, a mainstream middle-class majority, an emergent group of immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean and an abandoned minority. His presentation begins at 6 p.m. in the Chapman Conference Center, Building 3, Second Floor, Room 3210. Cost is $10
Several workshops and panels will take place on Saturday, Nov. 20, including a presentation by Mosley, who has written more than 30 books, most of which are crime fiction accounts of Easy Rawlins, the black private investigator. Mosley’s latest novel, The Last Days of Ptolemy Gray, centers on the life of a 91-year-old man forgotten by his loved ones and suffering from dementia. The presentation begins at 10 a.m. in the auditorium, Building 1, Second Floor, Room 1261.
A panel on Caribbean authors will include Michele Voltair Marcelin (Lost and Found), Ruth-Miriam Garnett (Chole’s Grief), Diana McCaulay (Dog-Heart) and Mervyn Talylor (No Back Door). The presentation takes place at 10:30 a.m., Building 3, Third Floor, Room 3314.
The Caribbean panel will continue with authors from Trinidad and Tobago, including Merle Hodge (For the Life of Laetiatia), Lasana Kwesi (Poems of Rebellion), Raoul Pantin (Days of Wrath) and Earl Lovelace (Is’ Just a Movie). Journalist-author Winston Maynard will moderate this panel, which begins at 11:30 a.m. in Building 3, Third Floor, Room 3314.
A panel of African authors will present “Stories of the African Diaspora.” The panel is framed around the history of three African nations as presented in their literature.
They are Chenjerai Hove of Zimbabwe (Miami: A City of Refuge), Okey Ndibe of Nigeria (Arrows of Rain) and Doreen Baingana of Uganda (Tropical Fish: Stories from Entebbe). The presentation begins at 2 p.m. in Building 3, Third Floor, Room 3315.
Danticat will present her latest book, Create Dangerously: Immigrant Artists at Work, in conjunction with Kenyan Ngugi Wa Thiongo (Dreams in a Time of War) and Cuban Carlos Eire (Learning to Die in Miami). The presentation takes place at 3:30 p.m., Building 3, Second Floor, Chapman Room 3210.
On Sunday, Danticat, along with M.J. Fievre, Mark Kurlansky and Les Standiford, will host the panel discussion on Haiti Noir, a compilation of stories written by Haitians in the aftermath of the January earthquake. The panel convenes at 2 p.m. in the Presentation Pavilion A at Northeast Third Street and First Avenue.
Black authors will continue to be present on Saturday, Nov. 20:
• Mat Johnson, who wrote Dark Rain: A New Orleans Story, a young adult graphic novel which he describes as a New Orleans noir story in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, will speak at 10:30 a.m., Centre Gallery, Building 1, Third Floor, Room 1365.
• Les Standiford (Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction that Changed America), author of 10 novels, winner of the Frank O’Connor Award for Short Fiction and director of the Creative Writing Program at Florida International University in Miami will appear at 1:30 p.m., Presentation Pavilion A, Room 7128
• Chenjerai Hove (Bones), a Zimbabwean poet in exile, winner of many awards, including German-Afrika Prize for Freedom of Expression, the Zimbabwe Literary Award for Bones and Africa’s Book of the Year, will speak at 2 p.m., Building 3, Third Floor, Room 3315.
• Okey Ndibe (Arrows of Rain), professor of fiction and African literature at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., 2 p.m., Building 3, Third Floor, Room 3315.
• Doreen Baingana (Tropical Fish: Stories out of Entebbe), winner of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ prize for short fiction, as well as the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for best first book in the African region, and the Washington Independent Writers Award, 2 p.m. Building 3, Third Floor, Room 3315.
• Heather Russell (Legba’s Crossing: Narratology in the African Atlantic), 3:30 p.m., Building 3, Third Floor, Room 3315.
• Donna Weir-Soley (Eroticism, Spirituality and Resistance in Black Women’s Writings), 3:30 p.m., Building 3, Third Floor, Room 3315.
• Ngugi Wa Thiongo, whose Drams in a Time of War: A Childhood Memoir shows how the Mau Mau armed struggle for Kenya’s independence against the British not only changed the writer’s life but also the lives of those closest to him. The world-renowned novelist, playwright, critic and author will appear at 3:30 p.m., Building 3, Second Floor, Chapman Room 3210
The line up for Sunday, Nov. 21, includes:
• Mark Kurlansky (Edible Stories), former Miami Herald foreign correspondent, based in Paris and then Mexico, and reported on Europe, West Africa, Southeast Asia, Central America, Latin America and the Caribbean, winner of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, noon, Presentation Pavilion A
• Les Standiford (Bringing Adam Home: The Abduction that Changed America), noon, Presentation Pavilion A
• Kim Anthony, whose Unfavorable Odds is the true story of University of California’s first African-American female gymnastics champion, 4 p.m., Building 3, Third Floor, Room 3315.
• Bernice McFadden, whose Glorious is the story of Easter Venetta Bartlett, a fictional Harlem Renaissance writer living during the Civil Rights era, 12 p.m., Building 3, Second Floor, Room 3209.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Miami Book Fair
WHEN: Nov. 14-21
WHERE: Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave. in downtown Miami.
COST: General admission is $8, except for Friday, which is free. General admission for children under 18 is free every day. Some events will have an additional charge.
TRANSPORTATION: Public transportation is available through the Miami-Dade Transit Metrorail System.