Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Oscar Hijuelos (The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love) reads from his latest book, Empress of the Splendid Season, tonight at 8:00 at Books & Books (296 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables). Empress is the story of Lydia Espana, the spoiled daughter of a small-town Cuban mayor, who is banished from her home in 1947 for staying out until dawn after a dance. The naughty gal moves to New York and then finds herself living the life of the working poor. Welcome to America! Admission is free. Call 305-442-4408.
Candy is fattening. Flowers die. Music lives on and on. The Rhythm Foundation knows that and as a kind gesture gives Miami an early valentine in the form of jazz pianist Fred Hersch. He'll be performing a tribute to composers Cole Porter, Billy Strayhorn, and Thelonious Monk at the Van Dyke Cafe (846 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) tonight and tomorrow at 8:30 and 10:30 p.m. A two-time Grammy Award-nominee, Hersch, who began playing piano at age four, is known for his work as a soloist and accompanist to artists such as Stan Getz, Toots Thielemans, and Joe Henderson. Tickets cost five dollars for bar seats and ten dollars for table seats. Call 305-672-5202.