Miami Book Fair International 2013: The Ten Best Events

The books are back, y'all.

The Miami Book Fair International kicks off its 30th anniversary edition this Sunday, bringing the literary arts' biggest names to Miami Dade College's Wolfson Campus for a full week of readings, conversations, and the kind of shopping splurges that'll have you browsing the aisles at Ikea next weekend for yet another bookshelf.

With over 200 events on the schedule this year, it's easy to get lost in the annual whirlwind of words. So we're picking out the most essential author talks of this dirty thirty celebration. Read on for booze, belly laughs, and yes, even Brian Boitano.

See also: Da Vinci Code Author Dan Brown to Open Miami Book Fair International 2013

10. Dan Brown

Sunday, Nov. 17, 7:30 p.m.

Maybe you're one of the millions who read and loved The Da Vinci Code. Or maybe you're one of the millions who think he's a hack, and who blame him personally for your recurring nightmares about Tom Hanks' creepy hair in the movie adaptation. Either way, this is your chance to tell him in person.

9. Erica Jong

Monday, Nov. 18, 8 p.m.

Jong's Fear of Flying gave women everywhere permission to fantasize about "the zipless fuck." She'll be conversing with fellow novelist Jennifer Weiner, who will hopefully ask her thoughts about that New York Times article that claims women can't get off with strangers. (We're guessing she's not a fan.)

8. Sherman Alexie

Tuesday, Nov. 19, 8 p.m.

We tend to think we have all ethnicities represented here in Miami, but Alexie's bound to prove us wrong; the award-winning poet and author draws much of his inspiration from the Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest. He's bringing Blasphemy, a collection of new work and old favorites, to the book fair, so this one's for well-read fans and newbies alike.

7. Carl Hiassen

Wednesday, Nov. 20, 8 p.m.

He's funny, he's prolific, and he's all about Florida. The author of dozens of wacky novels set in South Florida headlines Wednesday night at the fair. Look, you're gonna want a little levity before diving head-first into MBFI's main weekend.

6. Literary Death Match

Friday, Nov 22, 6 p.m.

Finally, a book fair event with booze. This year's Literary Death Match begins with a two-hour happy hour at Bardot, designed to get everyone good and lubricated while they peruse Bookleggers' offerings. Bring books to donate or trade, or a little cash; you can buy books for $2 a pop. Then, it's on to the show, as four authors perform their work for a panel of celebrity judges.

5. Anjelica Huston

Friday, Nov. 22, 8 p.m.

Some people write memoirs before anything interesting has actually happened to them. (Ahem, Beiber.) Anjelica Huston is not one of those people. She's spent a lifetime in Hollywood, from growing up around Marlon Brando and John Steinbeck to her recent roles in Wes Anderson films. It's all covered in A Story Lately Told: Coming of Age in Ireland, London, and New York, and she'll likely have even more stories to tell when she takes the stage Friday.

4. Lawrence Wright

Saturday, Nov. 23, 11 a.m.

Lawrence Wright is a white dude who writes novels and New Yorker pieces about serious stuff politics and terrorism. Wait, don't go to sleep yet! First of all, he does those things really well. But more importantly, his latest is an examination of Scientology, the weirdo cult-like religion that has a good chunk of Hollywood in its grasp. Think of it as a respectable, intellectual alternative to your daily dose of the E! Network.

3. Mitch Albom, Dave Barry, Roy Blount, Jr., Amy Tan, and others

Saturday, Nov. 23, 3 p.m.

Of all the group author events at MBFI this year, this is the one most likely to make you pee your pants. Poorly titled upcoming advice book aside, Miami humorist Dave Barry's a funny guy; paired with Roy Blount, Jr., the folksy, no-nonsense panelist on NPR's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, he'll have a partner in comedy. The MBFI folks also added novelists Mitch Albom, Amy Tan, and others to this panel, all to talk about a rock band made up of authors, which, let's face it, is pretty funny on its own.

2. Brian Boitano

Sunday, Nov. 24, 1 p.m.

Yes, that Brian Boitano. Eighties and early '90s Olympic figure skater Brian Boitano. He's the author of a cookbook now, you guys, and its name is a riff on the song "What Would Brian Boitano Do" from the South Park movie. If you can think of a way this presentation could possibly be boring, we'd love to hear it.

1. Edwidge Danticat

Sunday, Nov. 24, 1:30 p.m.

Chris Matthews is the closing act of this year's fair, but after a week of full immersion in the literary arts, who wants to listen to that guy yell at things for fun? Close out your MBFI experience instead with Miami's Danticat, a Haitian author whose latest, Claire of the Sea Light, is being hailed as the great Haitian novel.

Follow Ciara LaVelle on Twitter @ciaralavelle.

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