It’s that time of year again, when the tents pop up, books line tables, and young and old come to enjoy Miami Book Fair International. With a huge selection of panels, authors, events, and readings, however, it’s hard to know where to start, especially for millennials and people of color. Who’s talking about issues that matter to us, and where do we go to feel connected? We’ve done the hard work for you, curating the best of the best for the aforementioned topics, and, of course, for fun. Happy fairing
Sunday, Nov. 13
6 p.m. / Chapman (Bldg. 3, 2nd Floor)
You may know him as the newest host of The Daily Show, but Trevor Noah has been a stand-up comic for years, with numerous specials and tours around Africa and beyond. Now, he’s written a book about his coming-of-age in South Africa during apartheid with a mother of Xhosa and Jewish descent, and a Swiss-German father. Tickets are a bit pricey ($40), but each includes a copy of Born a Crime and the chance to see one of the comedy world’s most exciting players in action — a guy who’s not afraid to talk about the weirdness of the U.S., and who has a unique perspective on what it means to grow up biracial in South Africa.
Thursday, Nov. 17
8:00 .pm. – 9:00 p.m. (The Porch)
For those looking for a more informal, slightly darker sort of event that will keep you on the edge of your seat, Noir at the Bar might have the right stuff. Crime and mystery are at the heart of works by authors such as M.J. Fievre, Fabienne Josaphat, John Dufresne, and Lynne Barrett, all of whom will be in attendance. It’s the perfect place to mingle in a cozier atmosphere than a conference room, and a chance to pick the authors’ brains.
Saturday, November 19
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. / Room 8202 (Bldg. 8, 2nd Floor)
Want a behind-the-scenes look into some of the most important issues when it comes to race relations today? Then be sure not to miss this panel, which is set to be a great primer and offer interesting insight into what it means to be black in the U.S. Wesley Lowery (They Can’t Kill Us All: The Story of #blacklivesmatter) goes behind the scenes of the movement; Mychal Denzel Smith (Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching) speaks on black masculinity and the expectations/taboos, and how feminism and LGBTQ rights are all connected to the same cause; and D. Watkins (The Cook Up: A Crack Rock Memoir) presents an in-depth look inside the Baltimore drug trade.
Saturday, Nov. 19
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. / Room 3314 (Bldg. 3, 3rd Floor)
What’s even better than a reading? How about three readings from some of the most talented writers of color at work today for the price of free-ninety-nine? The readings by National Book Award winners and finalists offer a Miami a taste of literary greatness and this year Karan Mahajan (The Association of Small Bombs), Colson Whitehead (The Underground Railroad) and Jacqueline Woodson (Another Brooklyn) will bring their talents to the stage with topics ranging from market bombings in Delhi, traveling on the Underground Railroad, and 1970s Brooklyn.
Sunday, Nov. 20
Don’t let the title fool you: There are more to these novels than just families in perilous situations. In Chigozie Obioma’s The Fisherman, four brothers come across a madman who claims their family will be hit with violence and what ensues is both dark and complex; Anne Korkeakivi’s The Shining Sea brings us into World War II, Woodstock, London’s dark dangerous nightlife, and more with a knack for detail; and Sabina Murray’s Valiant Gentlemen: A Novel infuses historical fiction with humor, focusing on the lives of Irish patriot Roger Casement, his friend Herbert Ward, and Ward’s wife, Argentine-American Sarita Sanford.
Sunday, Nov. 20
5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Chapman Conference Center (Bldg. 3, 2nd Floor, Room 3210)
Rita Dove has been in the game for more than 40 years and not only is she a former Poet Laureate (as well as the first African-American to gain the title), she’s also got a Pulitzer for a novel written in verse, and is an essential read for anyone who is even remotely interested in poetry or, you know, words. Robert Pinsky, also a former Laureate, is a critic and has a pretty unexpected accolade: he’s the only member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters to have been on The Simpsons and The Colbert Report. Hard to beat that combo.
Sunday, Nov. 20
4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
No matter what your age, when Oprah talks, we tend to listen. Colson Whitehead’s latest novel, The Underground Railroad, is his most-buzzed about yet and was not only picked for Oprah’s book club but also nominated for a National Book Award. While the novel is a well-researched look into slavery, there’s a literal twist: The railroad has real trains and conductors. It’s a historical book that resonates strongly in the present day, a time when the U.S. is wildly imperfect and wildly in need of change.