A Beginner's Guide to the Miami Book Fair: Nine Events You Don't Want to Miss

It may strike some people as odd that Miami is becoming known as a literary city. Creative, yes. Artsy, sure. But is literary a stretch? If you have ever attended the Miami Book Fair before, the answer is a resounding "no." If this is your first time attending, get ready. Not only are there authors and books, there are readings, parties, panels, and even an attempt at breaking a Guinness World Record. If you’re not sure where to start, have no fear — we did all the hard work for you. Read/write/attend/party on. 

Kick-Off Party Miami Book Fair 2015

Sunday, November 15, 5:30 p.m. at the Porch
What better way to get the ball rolling than a bookish fiesta? The MBFI transforms the area outside The Swamp to an urban hangout dubbed "The Porch." Board Chair and Books & Books owner Mitchell Kaplan will be there, as well as MDC president, Dr. Eduardo Padrón, plus music from Dj Patrick Walsh, words by Miami Poetry Collective, beer from Biscayne Bar brewing, and barbecue. 

An Evening with Patti Smith
Sunday, November 15, at 7 p.m in the Chapman building
After rubbing elbows with your fellow attendees, make a quick exit and go see Patti Smith. Not only was she an early pioneer of NYC’s punk scene, she’s also written a National Book Award-winning memoir, Just Kids. Her latest is M Train, and she's sure to be an entertaining and inspiring author, perfect for an opening event. Tickets are required. 

World’s Smallest Poetry Reading: An O, Miami Party
Tuesday, November 17, at 7 p.m. at the Porch
Always wanted to be part of a Guinness World Record? Love poetry? In celebration of Eight Miami Poets, a new book of young and emerging poets in Miami-Dade County published by Jai-Alai Books, O, Miami is aiming to achieve greatness. Hear a poem inside a booth and while you wait, enjoy drinks and a used-book exchange by Bookleggers.

Paris is Still Burning
Wednesday, November 18, 6:30 p.m. at the Olympia Theater
There aren’t many opportunities to see a performance inspired by the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning, which chronicled the ball culture in 1980s NYC. Contemporary queer poets of color will showcase work that explores racial, social and economic injustice and include the likes of Danez Smith, David Thomas Martinez, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Justin Phillip Reed.

A Special Evening with 2015 Man Booker Prize-Winner Marlon James
Wednesday, November 18, 6 p.m. in the Chapman building
Just a few weeks ago, James won the prestigious 2015 Man Booker Prize (the first time for a Jamaican) for A Brief History of Seven Killings. Set in 1970s Kingston, the novel jumps from different eras and perspectives, utilizes English and Jamaican Patois, and is a rather in-depth examination of violence, corruption, cultural differences, post-colonial Jamaica, and yes, Bob Marley. Tickets are required.

The Moth StorySLAM: Only in Miami, Literally
Thursday, November 19, at 7:30 p.m. at the Swamp
Have a true MIA story to tell? Does it involve cafecitos, alligators, or Kendall bros? Then you have to come out to the open-mic event at The Swamp and either listen (or participate) to the stories that aim to explore what makes Miami tan Miami. Life in the Magic City has never been so entertaining. Tickets are required. 

Jorge G. Castañeda en Conversación con Jorge Ramos
Sunday, November 22, at 2 p.m. in Room 7174
Because we’re in Miami (and because this is 2015), it makes sense to have events en español, including panels, readings, and discussions. There are a ton of options to choose from, but one of the more scintillating should be a conversation between journalist and Univision anchor Jorge Ramos (famous for getting kicked out of a Donald Trump press conference) and Jorge G. Castañeda, Mexico’s former secretary of foreign affairs.

Sonia Manzano in Conversation with Edwidge Danticat

Sunday, November 22, at 2:30 p.m. in Room 2106
Another facet of the MBFI is the variety of options for kids, from painting and plays to quizzes and music. Of course, it’s always better to do something fun for both the youngsters and the adults, which is where Sonia Manzano and Edwidge Danticat come in. You may remember Manzano, aka Maria, from Sesame Street, and Danticat from her various novels, including Breath, Eyes, Memory. Both will discuss their new books, family, and pursuing your dreams.

Street Fair
Friday through Sunday, November 20 through 22, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., at MDC Wolfson Campus
Last but not least is the street fair itself, which is much more than a bunch of books. It’s also the Festival of Authors, with more than 450 reading and talking about their work, Children’s Alley activities, featured comic and graphic novelists and illustrators, and more. Friday is free and for the rest of weekend prices vary depending on age. (12 and under are free!) For more information visit

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