Authors, Drag Queens And A Former Vice President: Welcome To The Book Fair

The 34th annual Miami Book Fair, which ran from Nov. 12 to Nov. 19., brought thousands of people to Wolfson Campus to enjoy writers, artists and presenters from around the world.

Colorful tents lined the streets of downtown Miami while attendees explored events like Lights On at The Porch, where guests enjoyed live comedy and musical performances, Kitchen Stadium, which included live cooking demos and ReadCaribbean, a program that allowed visitors the chance to explore Caribbean literature.  

The Book Fair kicked off with it’s popular A Conversation With… event on Nov. 12, when journalist Dan Rather spoke about his current book What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism.

Other speakers who appeared later in the week included singer Patti Smith, playwright Wallace Shawn and former Democratic National Committee chairwoman Donna Brazile who spoke with CNN political commentator—and Miami resident— Ana Navarro about the challenging experience running the DNC during the 2016 election amid Russian hacking.

“[Russian hacking] was a 21st-century crime. It was a cyber crime. This was an attack by a hostile foreign power,” Brazile said in the hour-long conversation. “I still want the American people to be outraged.”

The series also included anchor Katy Tur who spoke about her experiences covering the Donald Trump campaign and her novel Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History. .

“I’m thrilled to be here. The Miami Book Fair is legendary,” Tur said. “It’s good for authors because you get a lot of recognition and get a lot of people getting curious about the book and it’s good for Miami because books are good for everybody.”

All forms of writing found a venue to shine during the weekend at The Street Fair’s booths, which ranged from comic books to meditation guides.

“Books are the physical manifestation of art,” said Gene Luen Yang, a comic-book artist and a national ambassador for young people’s literature, who frequents the Book Fair.

Author and journalist Walter Isaacson also returned to the Book Fair on Nov. 18 to speak about his latest novel, Leonardo da Vinci.

“Miami is a deeply creative city where people love the arts, the sciences, and the humanities,” Isaacson said. “I think creativity occurs when you have a tolerant, diverse community when people are both creative and love technology and that’s why I love Miami.”

The Book Fair didn’t run completely without a hitch.

Democratic senator Al Franken of Minnesota, set to be the closing speaker, canceled his appearance on Nov. 17 due to a sexual harassment accusation by radio host Leeann Tweeden.

But that cancellation didn’t threaten to stop the Book Fair’s momentum as it hosted its keynote speaker, former Vice President Joe Biden, at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 18.

Biden, on a book tour for his memoir Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose, spoke with author George Saunders about the aftermath of his son Beau Biden’s death, where he sees the country now and how he thinks it can move forward through “one of  the most dangerous times in American history.”

“We’re high-bound by traditions” Biden said. “The world is ours. There’s reasons for hope.”

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