The ABCs of MBFFrom A to Z, Miami Book Fair offers a range of topics and authors for every reader: Nov. 17-24!

Crowds at the Street Fair

Miami Book Fair (MBF) is back with an astounding selection of authors, activities and presentations. Founded in 1984, MDC’s annual eight-day festival has grown into the largest and most comprehensive community-rooted literary gathering in the United States. This year, the Fair will feature more than 500 celebrated authors from the U.S. and around the world reading from new works and participating in discussions on myriad topics. Recognized as one of the most inclusive events in South Florida (and the best book festival in the country), Miami Book Fair typically welcomes more than 150,000 visitors over the course of eight days.

From the Street Fair to the lecture rooms, there are many ways to experience the Fair. Want to get a quick overview of topics and authors? We’ve put together an ABC of themes as a way to help you navigate the literary universe of this year’s Fair. This list represents just some of the highlights. For a complete look at everything the Fair has to offer, be sure to browse through the 2019 Fair Guide. It’s a great way to make your selections and plan your visit. In the meantime, let’s begin at the beginning:

The ABCs of MBF

A – African American Civil Rights

Darryl Pinckney, Busted in New York and Other Essays

In these twenty-five essays, Darryl Pinckney has given us a view of our recent racial history that blends the social and the personal, and wonders how we arrived at our current moment. Pinckney reminds us that “white supremacy isn’t back; it never went away.” It is this impulse to see historically that is at the core of Busted in New York and Other Essays, which traces the lineage of black intellectual history from Booker T. Washington through the Harlem Renaissance, to the Black Panther Party and the turbulent sixties, to today’s Afro-pessimists, and the celebrated and neglected thinkers in between. Pinckney covers a range of topics including, the grassroots of protest in Ferguson, Missouri, the eighteenth-century Guadeloupian composer Joseph Bologne, an unsparing portrait of Louis Farrakhan, the enduring legacy of James Baldwin, the unexpected story of black people experiencing Russia, Barry Jenkins’ Moonlight, and the visual artist Kara Walker.

B – Blanco

Richard Blanco, How to Love a Country: Poems 

The new collection from the renowned inaugural poet exploring immigration, gun violence, racism, LGBTQ issues and more, in accessible and emotive verses. The poems form a mosaic of seemingly varied topics: the Pulse Nightclub massacre; an unexpected encounter on a visit to Cuba; the forced exile of 8,500 Navajos in 1868; a lynching in Alabama; the arrival of a young Chinese woman at Angel Island in 1938; the incarceration of a gifted writer; and the poet’s abiding love for his partner, who he is finally allowed to wed as a gay man. But despite each poem’s unique concern or occasion, all are fundamentally struggling with the overwhelming question of how to love this country. Seeking answers, Blanco digs deep into the very marrow of our nation through poems that interrogate our past and present, grieve our injustices, and note our flaws, but also remember to celebrate our ideals and cling to our hopes.

C – Coming of Age

Susan Choi, Trust Exercise: A Novel

In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarefied bubble, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes. When within this striving “Brotherhood of the Arts,” two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed―or untoyed with―by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley. The outside world of family life and economic status, of academic pressure and of their future adult lives, fails to penetrate this school’s walls―until it does, in a shocking spiral of events that catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside-down. As captivating and tender as it is surprising, Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise will incite heated conversations about fiction and truth, friendships and loyalties, and will leave readers with a wiser understanding of the true capacities of adolescents and of the powers and responsibilities of adults.

D – Debut works

Etaf Rum, A Woman Is No Man

In her debut novel, Palestinian American author Etaf Rum offers an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world. Rum has said in an interview that she “never studied creative writing, and A Woman Is No Man was the first piece of fiction [she] ever wrote.” In her impressive debut novel, Rum tells the story of three generations of Palestinian-American women struggling to express their desires within the confines of their Arab culture. A 17-year-old, living in Palestine, finds herself quickly betrothed and married off and, soon after, living in Brooklyn. Eighteen years later, that woman’s oldest daughter wants to go to college and not be married, but her grandmother insists on tradition. Fate has a will of its own, however. A Woman Is No Man is an intimate glimpse into a controlling and closed cultural world and a universal tale about family and the ways silence and shame can destroy those we have sworn to protect.

E – Environment/Climate

Nathaniel Rich, Losing Earth: A Recent History

By 1979, we knew nearly everything we understand today about climate change― including how to stop it. Over the next decade, a handful of scientists, politicians, and strategists, led by two unlikely heroes, risked their careers in a desperate, escalating campaign to convince the world to act before it was too late. Losing Earth is their story, and ours. The New York Times Magazine devoted an entire issue to Nathaniel Rich’s groundbreaking chronicle of that decade, which became an instant journalistic phenomenon―the subject of news coverage, editorials, and conversations all over the world. In its emphasis on the lives of the people who grappled with the great existential threat of our age, it made vivid the moral dimensions of our shared plight. Now expanded into book form, Losing Earth tells the human story of climate change in even richer, more intimate terms. It’s a riveting work of dramatic history that articulates a moral framework for understanding how we got here, and how we must go forward.

F – Free Speech

Stanley Fish,The First: How To Think About Hate Speech, Campus Speech, Religious Speech, Fake News, Post-Truth, and Donald Trump

From the celebrated public intellectual and New York Times bestselling author, comes an urgent and sharply observed look at one of the most hotly debated issues of our time: freedom of speech. How does the First Amendment really work? Is it a principle or a value?  What is hate speech and should it always be banned? Are we free to declare our religious beliefs in the public square? What role, if any, should companies like Facebook play in policing the exchange of thoughts, ideas, and opinions? With clarity and power, Stanley Fish, “America’s most famous professor” (BookPage), explores these complex questions in The First. Ultimately, Fish argues, freedom of speech is a double-edged concept; it frees us from constraints, but it also frees us to say and do terrible things. Urgent and controversial, The First is sure to ruffle feathers, spark dialogue, and shine new light on one of America’s most cherished—and debated—constitutional rights.


Adam Rippon, Beautiful on the Outside

Former Olympic figure skater and self-professed America’s Sweetheart, Adam Rippon showcases his funny and inspiring personality in this entertaining memoir. Your mom probably told you it’s what on the inside that counts. Well, then she was never a competitive figure skater. Olympic medalist Adam Rippon has been making it pretty for the judges even when, just below the surface, everything was an absolute mess. From traveling to practices on the Greyhound bus next to ex-convicts, to being so poor he could only afford to eat the free apples at his gym, Rippon got through the toughest times with a smile on his face, a glint in his eye, and quip ready for anyone listening. Beautiful on the Outside looks at his journey from a home-schooled kid in Scranton, Pennsylvania, to a self-professed American sweetheart on the world stage and all the disasters and self-delusions it took to get him there.

H – History

George Packer, Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century

One of America’s greatest non-fiction writers gives us an epic saga of the rise and fall of American power, from Vietnam to Afghanistan, as told through the life of one man. “Richard Holbrooke was brilliant, utterly self-absorbed, and possessed of almost inhuman energy and appetites. Admired and detested, he was the force behind the Dayton Accords that ended the Balkan wars, America’s greatest diplomatic achievement in the post-Cold War era. His power lay in an utter belief in himself and his idea of a muscular, generous foreign policy. From his days as a young adviser in Vietnam to his last efforts to end the war in Afghanistan, Holbrooke embodied the postwar American impulse to take the lead on the global stage. But his sharp elbows and tireless self-promotion ensured that he never rose to the highest levels in government that he so desperately coveted. His story is thus the story of America during its era of supremacy: its strength, drive, and sense of possibility, as well as its penchant for overreach and heedless self-confidence.” — Goodreads

I – Immigrant Stories

Boris Fishman, Savage Feast: Three Generations, Two Continents, and a Dinner Table (a Memoir with Recipes)

A family story, an immigrant story, a love story, and an epic meal, Savage Feast explores the challenges of navigating two cultures from an unusual angle. Savage Feast begins with Boris’s childhood in Soviet Belarus, where good food was often worth more than money. He describes the unlikely dish that brought his parents together and how years of Holocaust hunger left his grandmother so obsessed with bread that she always kept five loaves on hand. Despite its abundance, food becomes even more important in America, which Boris’ family reaches after an emigration through Vienna and Rome filled with marvel, despair and bratwurst. How to remain connected to one’s roots while shedding their trauma? The ambrosial cooking of Oksana, Boris’s grandfather’s Ukrainian home aide, begins to show him the way. His quest takes him to a farm in the Hudson River Valley, the kitchen of a Russian restaurant on the Lower East Side, a Native American reservation in South Dakota, and back to Oksana’s kitchen in Brooklyn. Savage Feast is Boris’ tribute to food, that secret passage to an intimate conversation about identity, belonging, family, displacement, and love.

J – Jewish Issues

Julie Orringer, The Flight Portfolio

This long-awaited new work from the best-selling author of The Invisible Bridge, takes us back to occupied Europe in a gripping historical novel based on the true story of Varian Fry. In 1940, Varian Fry traveled to Marseille carrying three thousand dollars and a list of imperiled artists and writers he hoped to help escape within a few weeks. Instead, he stayed more than a year, working to procure false documents, amass emergency funds and arrange journeys across Spain and Portugal, where the refugees would embark for safer ports. His many clients included Hannah Arendt, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, and Marc Chagall, and the race against time to save them is a tale of forbidden love, high-stakes adventure, and unimaginable courage. Julie Orringer is the winner of The Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize and the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard, and the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.

K – Kafkaesque

Pablo Medina, The Cuban Comedy

Medina has created a bold, funny narrative with an uncanny heroine at its core: Elena of Piedra Negra, Cuba. It’s a love story steeped in political satire, poetry and the lightest touches of magical realism. Piedra Negra is an isolated village, whose citizens consist mainly of soldiers injured in the revolution who pass the time drinking a firewater that is so intense that all hallucinate and most never recover. The firewater distiller’s daughter Elena, longs to be a poet and after a chance encounter with Daniel Arcilla, Cuba’s most important poet, Elena wins a national poetry prize and leaves Piedra Negra for Havana. There she encounters a population adjusting to a new way of life, post-revolution. There are spies and secret meetings, black marketeers, and censorship. Full of outlandish humor and insights into an often contradictory and Kafkaesque regime, Medina brings 1960s Cuba to life through the eyes of Elena.

L – Latinx

Aarón Sanchez, Where I Come From: Life Lessons from a Latino Chef

America’s most prominent Latino chef shares the story behind his food, his family, and his professional journey. Before Chef Aaron Sanchez rose to fame on shows like MasterChef and Chopped, he was a restless Mexican-American son, raised by a fiercely determined and talented woman who was a successful chef and restaurateur in her own right—she is credited with bringing Mexican cuisine to the New York City dining scene. In many ways, Sanchez, who lost his father at a young age, was destined to follow in his mother Zarela’s footsteps. He spent nights as a child in his family’s dining room surrounded by some of the most influential chefs and restaurateurs in New York. At 16, needing direction, he was sent by his mother to work for renowned chef Paul Prudhomme in New Orleans. In this memoir, Sanchez delves into his formative years with remarkable candor, injecting his story with adrenaline and revealing how he fell in love with cooking and started a career in the fast-paced culinary world.

M – Music

Glen Friedman, Keep Your Eyes Open: The Fugazi Photographs

Known for his influential and iconic images of rebellious artists from classic skateboarding and punk to hip-hop cultures, Friedman has produced over 100 record covers, countless magazine pages, and almost a dozen books. In this book, he focuses on Fugazi, a band that evolved from Washington, DC’s hardcore punk scene of the late 1970s and early 80s. Known for it’s DIY ethic, Fugazi booked its own tours and performed in unconventional venues in order to maintain ticket prices that averaged just five dollars, a practice that opened many venues to other touring artists. While it would be impossible to fully capture Fugazi in any one medium, Friedman’s book effectively complements the band’s Dischord Records catalog, including seven studio albums, one soundtrack, three EPs and hundreds of live concert CDs produced from Fugazi s own soundboard recordings. This revised edition of the book features brand-new photos and an interview with Friedman and Fugazi singer/guitarist Ian MacKaye. 

N – Non-fiction

James Fallows, Deborah Fallows: Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America

A vivid, surprising portrait of the civic and economic reinvention taking place in America, town by town and generally out of view of the national media. A realistically positive and provocative view of the country between its coasts. For the last five years, James and Deborah Fallows have been traveling across America in a single-engine prop airplane. Visiting dozens of towns, they have met hundreds of civic leaders, workers, immigrants, educators, environmentalists, artists, public servants, librarians, business people, city planners, students, and entrepreneurs to take the pulse and understand the prospects of places that usually draw notice only after a disaster or during a political campaign.  The America they saw is acutely conscious of its problems—from economic dislocation to the opioid scourge—but it is also crafting solutions, with a practical-minded determination at dramatic odds with the bitter paralysis of national politics. At times of dysfunction on a national level, reform possibilities have often arisen from the local level. Their view of the country is as complex and contradictory as America itself, but it also reflects the energy, the generosity and compassion, the dreams and the determination of many who are in the midst of making things better.

O – Ops

Phillip Mudd, Black Site

A bold account of one of the most controversial and haunting initiatives in American history, Black Site tells the full story of the post-9/11 counterterrorism world at the CIA. When the towers fell on September 11, 2001, nowhere were the reverberations more powerfully felt than at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Almost overnight, the intelligence organization evolved into a warfighting intelligence service, constructing what was known internally as “the Program,” a web of top-secret detention facilities intended to help prevent future attacks on American soil and around the world. With Black Site, former deputy director of the CIA Counterterrorist Center Philip Mudd presents a full, never-before-told story of this now-controversial program, directly addressing how far America went to pursue al-Qa’ida and prevent another catastrophe. Based on interviews from dozens of officials—many of whom have never spoken out before— Black Site illuminates how the agency quickly stepped into the process of organizing a full-blown interrogation program. As compelling as it is revelatory, Black Site shows us the tragedy and triumph of the CIA during its most difficult days.

P – Poetry

Joy Harjo, An American Sunrise: Poems

A stunning new volume from the current U.S. Poet Laureate, a celebrated Native writer informed by her tribal history and spiritual connection to the land. In the early 1800s, the Mvskoke lands were taken away from the Creek Nation, and Joy Harjo’s ancestors were forcibly displaced. Two hundred years later, Harjo returns to those lands and opens a dialogue with history. In An American Sunrise, Harjo finds blessings in the abundance of her homeland and confronts the site where her people, and other indigenous families, essentially disappeared. From her memory of her mother’s death, to her beginnings in the native rights movement, to the fresh road with her beloved, Harjo’s personal life intertwines with tribal histories to create a space for renewed beginnings. Her poems sing of beauty and survival, illuminating a spirituality that connects her to her ancestors and thrums with the quiet anger of living in the ruins of injustice.

Q – Quest

Ruchika Tomar, A Prayer for Travelers

Cale Lambert, a bookish loner of mysterious parentage, lives in a dusty town near the California-Nevada border, a place where coyotes scavenge for backyard dogs and long-haul truckers scavenge for pills and girls. Cale was raised by her grandfather in a loving, if codependent, household, but as soon as she’s left high school his health begins an agonizing decline. Set adrift for the first time, Cale starts waitressing at the local diner, where she reconnects with Penélope Reyes, a charismatic former classmate running mysterious side-hustles to fund her dreams. Penny exposes Cale to the reality that exists beyond their small town and the girls become inseparable until one terrifying act of violence shatters their world. When Penny vanishes without a trace, Cale must set off on a dangerous quest across the desert to find her friend, and discover herself.  An audacious debut, told in deftly interwoven chapters, A Prayer for Travelers explores the complicated legacy of the American West and the trauma of female experience.

R – Romance

G. Willow Wilson, The Bird King

An epic journey set during the reign of the last sultan in the Iberian peninsula at the height of the Spanish Inquisition, this novel tells the story of Fatima, a concubine in the royal court of Granada, the last emirate of Muslim Spain, and her dearest friend Hassan, the palace mapmaker. Hassan has a secret―he can draw maps of places he’s never seen and bend the shape of reality. When representatives of the newly formed Spanish monarchy arrive to negotiate the sultan’s surrender, Fatima befriends one of the women, not realizing that she will see Hassan’s gift as sorcery and a threat to Christian Spanish rule. With their freedoms at stake, what will Fatima risk to save Hassan and escape the palace walls? As Fatima and Hassan traverse Spain with the help of a clever jinn to find safety, The Bird King asks us to consider what love is and the price of freedom at a time when the West and the Muslim world were not yet separate.

S – Self Care

Joseph Deitch, Elevate: An Essential Guide to Life

A modern world that is bursting with data can often make us feel even more lost as we struggle to find meaning and look for the answers to life’s mysteries. Joseph Deitch shares his lifelong pursuit of wisdom and growth in an accessible, practical, down-to-earth gift to his readers. Elevate is a celebration of life and the potential that exists for all of us. It provides both answers and insights as it links awareness and action, East and West, ancient and modern, spiritual and scientific. It offers a formula for turning frustration into fascination and provides a universal framework for what works and why.

T – Tom

Senator Tom Cotton, Sacred Duty

An extraordinary journey behind the scenes of Arlington National Cemetery that offers an intimate and inspiring portrait of “The Old Guard,” the revered U.S. Army unit whose mission is to honor our country’s fallen heroes on the most hallowed ground in America. Senator Cotton was a platoon leader with the storied 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment—The Old Guard—between combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. At the height of the Iraq Surge, he carried the flag-draped remains of his fallen comrades from airplanes at Dover Air Force Base and laid them to rest in Arlington’s famed Section 60, “the saddest acre in America.”  He also performed hundreds of funerals for veterans of the Greatest Generation, as well as the Korean and Vietnam Wars. Part history of The Old Guard, part memoir of Cotton’s time at Arlington, part intimate profile of the today’s soldiers, Sacred Duty is an unforgettable testament to the timeless power of service and sacrifice to our nation.

U – Uva

Uva de Aragón, The Miracle of Saint Lazarus: A Mystery Twenty Years in the Making

A few weeks after Hurricane Andrew wreaks devastation and havoc across South Florida, a father and his infant daughter crash their car into a canal. The man’s body is recovered, but his baby girl is never found. Twenty-three years later, after reports of alleged sightings of the girl, police reopen the case. Detective Maria Duquesne has been assigned to the case, but she has very little in the way of clues. Is it really possible that the girl has not died? Or is this simply the persistence of a desperate mother who will not accept the death of her daughter? Uva de Aragón’s novel – in an English-language translation by Jeffrey C. Barnett and Kathleen Bulger-Barnett – provides a multifaceted portrait of the Latino communities of Miami and Hialeah, creating an exciting thriller that will appeal to readers who enjoy mysteries with female sleuths.

V – Voices

Finalists of the National Book Award

Miami Book Fair, in partnership with the National Book Foundation and with the generous support of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, welcomes the Finalists and Winners of the prestigious National Book Foundation’s National Book Awards. Previous winners of the Award—including William Carlos Williams, Joyce Carol Oates, and William Faulkner—comprise a who’s who of American literature. Following the awards ceremony in New York City on November 20, at which the winners will be announced, finalists and winners in the categories of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, young people’s literature, and translated literature will travel to Miami for this remarkable gathering of literary talent. The program will be moderated by Lisa Lucas, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation.

W – World War II

Leonard Pitts, Jr., The Last Thing You Surrender: A Novel of World War II

Pulitzer-winning journalist and bestselling novelist, Leonard Pitts, Jr.’s new historical page-turner is a great American tale of race and war, following three characters from the Jim Crow South as they face the enormous changes World War II triggers in the United States. The three characters are; an affluent white marine who survives Pearl Harbor at the cost of a black messman’s life only to be sent, wracked with guilt, to the Pacific and taken prisoner by the Japanese; a young black woman, widowed by the same events at Pearl, who finds unexpected opportunity and a dangerous friendship in a segregated Alabama shipyard; and a black man, who as a child saw his parents brutally lynched and is conscripted to fight the Nazis for a country he despises, but discovers a new kind of patriotism in the all-black 761st Tank Battalion. Set against a backdrop of violent racial conflict on both the front lines and the home front, The Last Thing You Surrender explores the powerful moral struggles of individuals from a divided nation.

X – Xanadu

Les Standiford, Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America’s Xanadu 

Looking at the island of Palm Beach today with its unmatched mansions, tony shops and pristine beaches, one is hard pressed to visualize the dense tangle of Palmetto brush and mangroves that it was when visionary entrepreneur and railroad tycoon Henry Flagler first arrived there in April 1893. Trusting his remarkable instincts, within less than a year he had built the Royal Poinciana Hotel, and two years later what was to become the legendary Breakers―instantly establishing the island as the preferred destination for those who could afford it. Over the next 125 years, Palm Beach has become synonymous with exclusivity―especially its most famous residence, Mar-a-Lago. As Les Standiford relates, “the high walls of Mar-a-Lago and other manses like it were seemingly designed to contain scandal within as much as keep intruders out.”

Y – YA (Young Adult)

Kat Cho, Wicked Fox

An addictive fantasy/romance set in modern-day Seoul. Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret, she’s a “gumiho,” a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men around that no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt. But, after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process. Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to men. He’s drawn to her anyway. With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous and reignite a generations-old feud, forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon.

Z – Zany

Tim Dorsey, No Sunscreen For the Dead

The Sunshine State’s most lovable psychopath, Serge A. Storms, kills it in this zany adventure from a writer the Boston Globe calls  “compulsively irreverent and shockingly funny.” Serge and Coleman are back on the road, ready to hit the next stop on their list of obscure and wacky points of interest in the Sunshine State. This time, Serge’s interest is drawn to one of the largest retirement villages in the world, also known as the site of an infamous sex scandal between a retiree and her younger beau. What starts out as an innocent quest to observe elders in their natural habitats, sample the local cuisine and scope out a condo to live out the rest of their golden years, soon becomes a Robin Hood-like crusade to recover the funds of swindled residents. As the resident’s rally for Serge to seek justice on their behalfs, two detectives are hot on the heels of Serge and Coleman’s murderous trail. In this epic adventure that jumps between present day and the tumultuous times of the Vietnam war, mystery fans are in for a witty and deliciously violent delight from the twisted imagination of bestselling author Tim Dorsey.


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Check out the 2019 Fair Guide: Fair Guide