Books

Queer Authors at Miami Book Fair 2021: Alan Cumming, Kristen Arnett, and Sarah Schulman

Alan Cumming
Alan Cumming Photo by Josh Going
The Miami Book Fair has been no stranger to queer authors in the past, touting everyone from Mariko Tamaki to John Waters in recent years. That its latest lineup, featuring a massive mix of in-person and online events, has an abundance of them is no surprise. It’s an interesting and diverse mix of authors writing for audiences of all kinds this year, and New Times is happy to highlight some of our most anticipated authors and panels of the bunch.

One of the most exciting conversations that the  MiamiBook Fair has to offer this year will take place between authors Kristen Arnett and Zaina Arafat. Both novelists have approached a feeling of otherness and longing for stability in unique ways in their respective novels: Arnett’s With Teeth is about a mother’s feelings of inadequacy in the face of her family's unraveling and Arafat’s You Exist Too Much follows her Palestinian-American protagonist from her teen years to adulthood. 11 a.m. Sunday, November 21, at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave., Room 3209 (Building 3, Second Floor).

This isn’t Alan Cumming’s first rodeo in South Florida, having brought his past books, films, and stage shows to town, but the Miami Book Fair brings him in this year to discuss his latest work, On Baggage: Tales From a Fully Packed Life. The performer will be discussing his memoir with local author and professor Julio Capó, Jr., whose Welcome to Fairyland: Queer Miami Before 1940 is well worth checking out. 6 p.m. Saturday, November 20, at the Chapman Conference Center, 300 NE Second Ave., Room 3120 (Building 3, Second Floor).

It goes without saying that Sarah Schulman is one of our most important queer writers, activists, and historians. Her writing, from After Delores and The Cosmopolitans to Stagestruck and Conflict Is Not Abuse, are must-reads, and her latest, Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993, is an essential text. Miami Book Fair brings in Schulman to discuss her new work, in conversation with Jackson Howard, her editor at Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 8 p.m. Monday, November 15, at the Chapman Conference Center, 300 NE Second Ave., Room 3120 (Building 3, Second Floor).

At the virtual end of the spectrum, one queer conversation to be excited about is the one between writers Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore and Steven Reigns. Both of their works uniquely approach AIDS through their own lenses. Sycamore has been putting together unique anthologies like Nobody Passes and Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots? for some time now, and Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with the AIDS Crisis is just as necessary. By contrast, Reigns approached A Quilt for David with a mixture of nonfiction, reporting, and poetry to tell the story of a dentist living with HIV in a small conservative Florida town who was accused by eight people of giving them HIV. Their conversation will be moderated by PEN Across America program director William Johnson. Noon Wednesday, November 17, livestreamed via miamibookfaironline.com.
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Juan Antonio Barquin is a Miami-based writer who programs the queer film series Flaming Classics and serves as co-editor of Dim the House Lights. Barquin aspires to be Bridget Jones.