for Miami Herald
If you find yourself more overwhelmed than usual gazing at the massive Miami Book Fair International schedule, you are not alone. The fair, at Miami Dade College Wolfson campus (for the most part), runs from Nov. 15-22, so we have a little bit of time to digest the sheer stunning magnitude of it all.
Remember: “Evenings With …” events are ticketed ($15). Tickets go on sale online at 10 a.m. Oct. 21 for fair members and 10 a.m. Nov. 4 for the general public (a good reason to become a member — you get first crack at opening night with Patti Smith).
Here are a few — a very few — highlights. See the complete schedule, buy tickets or become a member at http://miamibookfair.com/.
Countdown to the fair: The fair begins before the fair even begins. Model Cindy Crawford shares stories about her career Oct. 5; Percy Jackson series creator Rick Riordan spins a new tale based on Norse mythology, “Magnus Chase,” on Oct. 10; Pulitzer Prize winner Tim Weiner talks Richard Nixon Oct. 21; Diana Nyad discusses her epic swim from Cuba to Florida Nov. 3; and literary fantasy mastermind David Mitchell introduces “Slade House” Nov. 5. On Oct. 10, the fair hosts its opening party at Wynwood Walls, where you can see the unveiling of a book fair mural by Miami Dade College alumna artist Diana “Didi” Contreras that will be photographed for this year’s poster.
Famous faces: Tom Brokaw (Nov. 18) will discuss his memoir “A Lucky Life Interrupted,” while Ted Koppel (Nov. 21) will examine how to survive a cyberattack. Then there are the actors-turned-writers: Amber Tamblyn reads her poetry Nov. 21; John Leguizamo, Rosie Perez and Kunal Nayyar discuss their memoirs Nov. 22; and Jesse Eisenberg talks about his short stories Nov. 22.
The Swamp and The Porch: The Swamp and The Porch are back, showcasing what’s best about Florida and Miami all week long. Between musical performances, poetry readings and other events on the Swamp stage, you can take selfies with inflatable sculptures, browse the produce at the Urban Oasis Farmer’s Market or play giant Jenga, Connect Four and other outdoor games with The New Tropic. You can also show off your creative side with Doodlers Anonymous or bring your beloved typewriter to get old school with other like-minded individuals. Best of all, there’s beer from Biscayne Bay Brewing.
“Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today”: In a most unusual and intriguing reading on Nov. 21, author Bryan Dorries will team up with actors Paul Giamatti and David Strathairn for readings of Sophocles’ plays “Ajax” and “Philoctetes.”
A Tribute to Oscar Hijuelos: The author of “The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love” died in 2013 but completed a final novel, “Twain & Stanley Enter Paradise,” out in November. A panel with his wife and editor Lori Marie Carlson Hijuelos, journalist Mirta Ojito, musician Arturo O’Farrill and Miami Herald columnist Ana Veciana-Suarez will discuss his legacy on Nov. 21.
LBGT interest: This year Reading Queer’s Literary Festival has merged with the fair for readings and performances, including a show Nov. 18 at the Olympia Theater that showcases contemporary queer poets of color inspired by the legendary documentary “Paris Is Burning” and “A Queer Quinceañera” with local drag performers Juleysi and Karla Nov. 22 at the Swamp.
The poets: You want a Pulitzer Prize winner? Gary Snyder appears Nov. 19. You want laureates? Juan Felipe Herrera and Kay Ryan read together on Nov. 22. What about a Paz Prize winner? Carlos Pintado joins Colin Channer, Vladimir Lucien and Nicholas Laughlin for a Caribbean program on Nov. 21.
The fiction: Here’s a taste of whom the weekend of Nov. 21-22 holds: Ann Beattie, Sara Gruen, Lauren Groff, Mat Johnson, Adam Johnson, Mary Gaitskill, Aleksander Hemon, Amy Hempel, Lily King, Paula McClain, Elizabeth McCracken, Ann Packer, Richard Price, Jim Shepard, Sister Souljah, Amy Tan, Vendela Vida. And more. Lots more.
The nonfiction: Just for starters, there’s Robert Reich Nov. 16 (on economics), Alexandra Fuller Nov. 17 (on her divorce) and David Axelrod Nov. 19 (on politics). Then, over the weekend: Elizabeth Alexander on her husband’s death and William Finnegan on surfing and Susan Casey on dolphins and Mary Karr on writing and — well, you get the picture.