What do Questlove, John Cleese, and Judy Blume have in common?
One's the hip-hop leader of the Roots. One's the British comedian who rose to fame with Monty Python. And one's the beloved author of young adult classics like Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret. Their careers and lives have likely never crossed.
But that's about to change this fall, when they join Joyce Carol Oates, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and John Waters -- yes, the John Waters -- among the hundreds of authors, poets, chefs, TV personalities, and others who'll present at the 2014 Miami Book Fair International.
The book fair announced its lineup tonight at a kickoff party at the Freedom Tower, and it's one of the most exciting yet. In addition to appearances by Questlove, Cleese, and Blume, This American Life host Ira Glass will bring his touring show 3 Acts, 2 Dancers, and 1 Radio Host to the Olympia Theater as a unique twist on the fest's annual "Evenings With..." series.
Other "Evenings With" speakers include New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof; prolific novelist (and unfortunate Twitter-er) Joyce Carol Oates; and native Miamian Chuck Todd, who was recently tapped to host Meet The Press. The night of Friday, November 21, will be devoted to the winners of the National Book Award, as part of MBFI's new partnership with the awards. (All the shortlisted nominees will be invited to the festival; check out the list of longlisted writers here.) Patricia Cornwell, Anne Rice, and Alexander McCall Smith were announced as part of the "Evenings With..." series in April.
And that's just the beginning. MBFI 2014 will feature nearly 400 authors and speakers, with major names not just in the publishing world but in culinary, political, and entertainment spheres as well. Foodies will want to check out chefs like Jesse Schenker and Michael Love; South Beach Wine & Food Festival director Lee Schrager will also present, as well Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin.
Politicos won't want to miss seeing Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who's made headlines recently for speaking out against sexism in the senate. Talk show hosts Tavis Smiley and Lou Dobbs will represent both sides of the political spectrum. And among those from Hollywood is legendary director John Waters, the mind behind Pink Flamingos and Hairspray, who turned perversion into an art form, and has truly perfected the style of the pencil-thin mustache.
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As in years past, Miami is also well represented. Dave Barry will be on hand to promote his unfortunately titled new book; Carl Hiassen will make an appearance no matter whether he wins that National Book Award; and other Miami natives, from Obama's inaugural poet Richard Blanco to filmmaker Billy Corben to novelist Edwidge Danticat, will also be on hand. New Times' own Tim Elfrink will even show up in support of Blood Sport, his book about the Miami doping scandal.
Basically, you're going to want to clear your schedule for November 16 through 23, which is when MBFI 2014 takes place. Check out the full list of authors at miamibookfair.com.
Follow Ciara on Twitter: @ciaralavelle