Staff Picks: Miami Book Fair

by Southeast Review staff

MBF logo

Hundreds of thousands of writers and readers visit The Miami Book Fair every year! This eight-day literary party will take place November 15-22, and we encourage you to attend if you can. To help you decide between hundreds of events on offer, we’ve put together a list of the ones our editorial and production staff view as essential.

Each staff member has suggested an event (in some cases, more than one). Check it out:


Eric Schlich, Assistant Nonfiction Editor & Production Editor: David Mitchell
Thursday, November 5 @ 7:00 pm–8:00 pm, Auditorium (Building 1, 2nd Floor, Room 1261)

Come on… Who didn’t love Cloud Atlas? Sure, the movie might have been confusing as hell (if you didn’t read the book), but the novel is one of the best postmodern pastiches ever written. Last year, I anxiously awaited the release of The Bone Clocks and wasn’t disappointed. This year, in his newest novel, Slade House, which will be published on October 27, Mitchell aims to reinvent the haunted house. A ghost story right in time for Halloween! Clearly, this reading is a must.


Hector Mojena, Business & Promotions Manager: Reading Queer
[Dates and times vary]

For the past two years, Reading Queer has provided a safe haven for queer literature to thrive in South Florida through annual events like last year’s Reading Queer Festival, which featured among its esteemed talent poets Julie Marie Wade and Jan Becker. For this year’s MBF, the organization will be hosting several writers from Florida and abroad for five events, and we recommend putting them ALL on your calendar: their opening night reading, Paris Is Still Burning, which highlights queer poets of color (see Maari’s recommendation below); a showcase of poets from A Midsummer Night’s Press’ roster; and a closing night quinceneara hosted by local Miami personalities Juleysi and Karla.


Sakinah Hofler, Fiction Editor: Haiti and Havana: Two Cultures, One Community
Sunday, November 15 @ 5:30 pm–Sunday, November 22 @ 6:00 pm, The Swamp

This display of photographs by Carl Juste sounds like it will be a wonderful exploration of the overlaps between two cultures. Moreover, we’ve often only heard single narratives about Haiti and Cuba, and it would be nice to see a celebratory aspect of both nations.


Kelsey Satalino, Assistant Online Editor: World’s Smallest Poetry Reading: An O, Miami Party
Tuesday, November 17 @ 7:00 pm–8:00 pm, The Swamp

Have you ever been at a reading so powerful that you felt like the only person in the room? I have, but it doesn’t happen often. A group of emerging poets from Miami-Dade County are taking this experience to the extreme by reading their works to an audience of one. This uniquely personal experience—in which audience members will enter private booths to hear a poem read just to them—sounds like a fantastic opportunity to familiarize yourself with some up-and-coming local poets while participating in a poetry reading like none other you’ve ever attended.


Emily Faison, Online Editor: A Man and His Typewriter
Wednesday, November 18 @ 6:00 pm–7:00 pm, The Porch

Looking for a unique souvenir from the MBF? Visit Oscar Fuentes at The Porch to request personalized poetry. Watch poetry-writing in action as “The Biscayne Poet” transforms your idea into verse on his antique typewriter. Fair-goers interested in the blend of performance and poetry won’t want to miss improvisational poetry, especially on a classic typewriter!


Maari Carter, Poetry Assistant: Paris Is Still Burning
Wednesday, November 18 @ 6:30 pm–7:30 pm, Olympia Theater

As the tagline for the film Paris Is Burning which inspired this reading goes: Having a ball…wish you were here! Reading Queer kicks off this year’s partnership with the Miami Book Fair by hosting performances by contemporary queer poets of color whose work explores social, racial, and economic injustice—Dawn Lundy Martin, Justin Phillip Reed, David Tomas Martinez, and Danez Smith. In Tallahassee, we were lucky to hear Danez Smith read at FAMU in October, but I’ll go ahead and vouch for everybody. Go, seriously.


Ramsey Mathews, Assistant Production Editor: A Little Swamp Romance
Wednesday, November 18 @ 8:30 pm, The Swamp

Shadowy puppetry is fun! The Wednesday evening performance of “A Little Swamp Romance” should be a multi-genre celebration of oral tradition, dance, music, poetry, and song. AND shadow puppets!


Kaveh Akbar, Book Review Editor: Four Poets: A Reading
Saturday, November 21 @ 1:00 pm–2:00 pm, Centre Gallery

The four aforementioned poets reading are Albert Goldbarth, Mark Doty, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Mary Jo Bang. Are you kidding me? This is Mount Rushmore, and you’ll regret it forever if you’re in Miami and you miss it.


Erin Hoover, Editor: Novels of War
Saturday, November 21 @ 1:30 pm–2:30 pm, Room 8201

I’m the first to admit that I don’t know much about war, and so the perspectives of those who have experienced it or, through research, delved into the topic have a unique ability to transport me as a reader into new places and spaces. This reading by Elliott Ackerman (Green on Blue), Skip Horack (The Other Joseph), and Ron Childress (And West Is West) will make you want to sit down and engage with these brave books and their topics.


Eric Schlich, Assistant Nonfiction Editor & Production Editor: New Fiction: Stories of Exile and Displacement
Saturday, November 21 @ 4:00 pm–5:00 pm, Room 8202

Featuring Jennine Capó Crucet (Make Your Home Among Strangers), Naomi Jackson (The Star Side of Bird Hill), and Rebecca Dinerstein (The Sunlit Night), this event is not one to miss. After reading Crucet’s MYHAS, a novel that brilliantly fictionalizes the media storm that surrounded Elián González, I was forced to re-consider what it means to be a Floridian… and an American. What better way to explore our nation of exiles than with this reading and panel discussion?


Keith Kopka, Poetry Editor: Jackson Galaxy: Calling All Cats — and Cat People! Jackson Galaxy is in the House
Saturday, November 21 @ 6:00 pm–7:00 pm, Room 2106

I don’t know what he is going to talk about. I do know that this guy carries cat toys in a guitar case, and he used to be in a band called Pope of the Circus Gods. This is a must-see for anyone who likes cats, or isn’t satisfied with the general existential dread of a giant book fair.


Erin Hoover, Editor: Sports Center
Sunday, November 22 @ 11:00 am–12:00 pm, Room 8301

Sports is never just, well, sports—it’s almost always a lens on other big topics like nation or culture. This reading features Diane Roberts, whose new book Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America our assistant fiction editor, Misha Rai, discussed with Diane in this recent interview for The Southeast Review. Meanwhile, Doug Merlino brings us a blunt examination of professional cage fighting in Beast: Blood, Struggle, and Dreams at the Heart of Mixed Martial Arts. Now, I know wrestling isn’t the same as MMA, but I’m a fan of the former and fairly certain Ronda Rousey could kick my ass up and down Tennessee Street.


Erin Hoover, Editor: Poems: Readings from New Books
Sunday, November 22 @ 12:30 pm–1:30 pm, Centre Gallery

Poetry lovers are fortunate to have three new books out from three killer craft-masters, all of whom I’ve seen read before and are totally worth solo billing: Erin Belieu (Slant Six), Carl Phillips (Reconnaissance), and Kevin Young (The Book of Hours). Prepare to feel as if the top of your head were taken off (as Emily Dickinson says), then enjoy the remainder of the Book Fair with your head floating somewhere around the ceiling.