The 39th Miami Book Fair took place from Nov. 13 to Nov. 20, gathering authors and book fans in an interactive, enriching and diverse experience. Miami-Dade College (MDC) has hosted the street fair since its first edition in 1984 and this year’s edition could not have been any better.
The colorful stands were used as a space for Books & Books, a section for different publishing houses to showcase their literature as well as for individual authors to sign copies of their books. Each one of the stands had a number that facilitated identification and navigation for attendees, especially those looking forward to meeting a specific author.
The street fair contained different points of entry and an array of possibilities to explore. Each corner of the place had its own energy and added something to the conversation around literature and art.
At the “Off the Shelf” stage, there was live music, conversations about culinary and cookbooks, Miami’s Favorite Poems Project poetry reads and the Literary Death Match, an entertaining competition featuring authors performing and reading their works in seven minutes or less in front of a group of renowned judges that accounted for literary merit, performance and intangibles.
This event was the perfect opportunity for fans to engage with the authors and get a signed copy in a more personal way, as well as for authors and publishers to showcase their work to the public.
“It was very gratifying to see that many people reacting to my book and telling me their stories, so when I see the impact that I had on someone’s life through my story, I am even more sure that it was worth it,” said Cristiana Pinciroli, author of “Sport, a Stage for Life,” one of the books featured in the event.
Pinciroli was present on two days of the street fair to sign copies and talk to readers about her publication.
The University of Miami was also present at the Miami Book Fair, as TheUCreates showcased and represented the UM community in one of the stands. They also had a list of selected literary pieces by authors from the university, as well as sponsored events during the week. One of those events was a conversation between guitarist, writer and producer Lenny Kaye and author Rachel Felder.
“We have a significant collection of fan zines, over fifteen thousand of them at this point, and a very pivotal part of that collection is the Lenny Kaye science fiction fan zine collection,” UM’s Head of Special Collections Cristina Favretto said at the beginning of the panel, highlighting the valuable reason for UM’s sponsorship of the talk.
Kaye promoted his book “Lightning Striking: Ten Transformative Moments in Rock and Roll” and compared his process of writing to that of making music.
“I do believe that in the best writing you have rhythm and melody, and just in the same way when you play a guitar solo, it has a narrative arc,” Kaye said.
He wrote about what influenced his music while making the story descriptive to a level that readers imagined themselves in it. Along with the publication, he and Ace Records created an accompanying CD with tracks reflecting the transformative moments depicted in the memoir.
“I just love the process of writing. Playing music is a performance art and you’re doing it at the moment. It’s here, it’s gone. But there’s something nice about the contemplative aspect of writing,” Kaye said.
His curiosity and love for music, history, and how much each transformative moment leads to another all make someone unfamiliar with the topic want to read the book and learn more.
Besides the street fair on the last three days, several talks happened at MDC throughout the week that were streamed virtually. Miami Book Fair Online, a consequence of the pandemic that continued this year, provided access to in-person content for those who could not attend.
The panels were divided on the main section of their website between fiction, non-fiction, poetry and children’s/teens, but deeper searches revealed more categories such as comics, Iberoamerican and Spanish.
Other highlighted panels from the fair included one between political commentator Ana Navarro and renowned actor Billy Porter about his memoir “Unprotected,” a panel with Rainbow Rowell about her collection of short stories “Scattered Showers” and one between model Paulina Porizkova and writer Dani Shapiro on Porizkova’s book “No Filter: The Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful.” All of these are available to stream on Miami Book Fair’s website.
Overall, the event that used to take place in two days has now benefited from including an entire week’s worth of panelists and speakers while still saving the final three days for closer contact with literature, music, art and people.