The swaying palm trees glowing in the neon lights of Collins Avenue. The melting pot of languages, cultures, and traditions. And even the honking of restless drivers fighting their way up I-95. All these things make Florida a unique and inspirational home to many writers.
Since 1984, the Miami Book Fair has brought the magic of literature and writing to South Florida. With more than 450 authors from all over the world contributing readings, it's easy to get lost in the excitement and miss out on some fascinating local authors present. Each author intends to create important and necessary dialogue through the book fair and brings something unique to the weeklong festival.
Craig Pittman's The State You're In: Florida Men, Florida Women, and Other Wildlife documents some of the state's wildest stories (and there's a lot of them). An investigative journalist and Florida Man himself, Pittman has collected all the strange and often surprising stories that make Florida's people and wildlife one of the most unique in the nation. On November 16, Pittman will join fellow Florida writer Tyler Gillespie in a livestreamed conversation about what makes Florida both strange and hopeful.
Though Florida is often the main character for many local writers, there are many other narratives these talented artists focus on. In Kathie Klarreich's new anthology, Hear Us: Writing from the Inside During the Time of COVID, the author collects nonfiction and art from incarcerated individuals, family members, and staff during the pandemic. No matter where in America you were during the pandemic, major events such as the murder of George Floyd made an impact throughout the long year. This anthology is just a brief look into how many of these events impacted incarcerated writers' lives. Her in-person talk on November 21 is presented by the nonprofit Exchange for Change, which brings writing classes to people in South Florida correctional facilities.
If you're more of a lover of fiction, the author of Twenty: A Jack Swyteck Novel, James Grippando, takes a narrative look at a family experiencing a Florida school shooting. A Harper Lee Prize winner and gripping thriller, the novel discusses some of America's most pressing issues in an attention-grabbing fictional storyline. In conversation with two other thriller writers, Grippando will discuss this book at a live event on November 21.
Cuba is always a topic of conversation in Miami and continuing that discussion is editor and professor of anthropology at Florida International University Jorge Duany. He arrives at the fair with his anthology, Picturing Cuba: Art, Culture, and Identity on the Island in the Diaspora. With its painful and rich history, this book explores the evolution of Cuban art with inclusions of Cuban artists still on the island, in exile, and those born in the U.S. He'll chat virtually with Anelys Alvarez, assistant curator of the Jorge M. Pérez Collection and the Related Group, on November 16.
If art books, Florida history, and thrilling fiction are still not your cup of tea, local self-care guru Shelly Tygielski's recent book and upcoming conversation surrounding the power of mindfulness might be just the event for you. In Sit Down to Rise Up: How Radical Self-Care Can Change the World, Tygielski discusses how self-care and mindfulness helped her heal from chronic health issues and complicated divorce. She and Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington will speak on November 15 in a livestreamed event.
The author of the Serge A. Storms series, Tim Dorsey, has a new novel that intrigues readers right from the title: Tropic of Stupid. With over four stars on Goodreads, the book is the 24th novel in a series of outrageous storylines following the central character, Serge A. Storms. Doresey will take part in the three-person conversation surrounding thrillers alongside Grippando and Charles Lichtman on November 21.
Miami Book Fair. Sunday through Sunday, November 21, at various locations; miamibookfair.com. Ticket prices vary.