The bibliophiles’ paradise known as the Miami Book Fair is an exercise in cover-to-cover planning. Should you, during the week-long literary festival, brave the overflowing crowds of the Street Fair or hunker down at the Porch, the event’s chill pop-up lounge? Will it be Joe Biden or Patti Smith, James McBride or Dan Rather, Jenna Bush or Jennifer Egan, or all the above?
It’s an impossible-to-conquer lineup of 600 authors hailing from the arenas of pop culture, literature and journalism, and first-timers should download the fairgoers’ schedule before heading to campus.
Here’s the lowdown on Miami Book Fair’s can’t-miss authors, Street Fair festivities, live-music offerings and parking.
Looming large over the festival’s who’s who of celebrated author VIPs is former VP Joe Biden, whose new memoir, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose,” reflects on the 2015 death of his son, Beau, and his perseverance. Biden’s off-campus appearance (7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18 at Adrienne Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall) will be part of the book fair’s “Evenings With” lineup, which will include journalist Dan Rather (Nov. 12), punk pioneer and author Patti Smith (Nov. 13), playwright Wallace Shawn (Nov. 14), novelist Isabel Allende and Democratic political strategist Donna Brazile (Nov. 15), first sisters Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush (Nov. 16), and National Book Award winner James McBride (Nov. 17). That’s not to mention the weekend Festival of Authors, which is, as usual, stocked with plenty of top-tier talent to excite literary buffs, including Jennifer Egan, Salman Rushdie, Claire Messud, Walter Isaacson, Lawrence O’Donnell and Chantel Acevedo. Along with the college’s classrooms and auditoriums, authors will appear in the Chapman Conference Center.
The Porch, an outdoor pop-up lounge that debuted in 2015, is now a centerpiece of the fair, organizers say, and will boast sounds from veteran Miami troubadours Spam Allstars (Nov. 12), Miami electronica dance duo Afrobeta (Nov. 15), the funky Magic City Hippies (Nov. 18 ) and Miami psychedelic groovers Elastic Bond (Nov. 18). But the Porch often swings more literary than musical: Noir at the Bar (Nov. 16) will collide drinks, a guided writing prompt — noir country — while a bluegrass band performs; a Lip Service and Speakfridays Afterparty (Nov. 17) will offer a musical hangout with local storytellers; and Death Be Gone — O, Miami Style! (Nov. 15) will feature readings of new “spell poems” inspired by Miami’s “underground culture of therapeutic lotions, divine oils and mystical perfumes” chronicled in Jai-Alai Books’ new release, “Death Be Gone.”
Between Friday morning on Nov. 17 and Sunday night on Nov. 19, the vendor-rich Street Fair will draw the biggest tangle of foot traffic to Northeast Second Avenue, the book fair’s main drag, thanks to some 200 vendors hawking books from rows of multicolored tents. Local and international book slingers will sell everything from bargain bestseller paperbacks to rare hardcover tomes, and the campus itself will be filled with kids’ activities (in Children’s Alley) and cooking demos from cookbook authors.
Public transit is abundant, offering a free Metromover that forms a belt around downtown Miami (exit at either the College Bayside or College North Metromover stations). Where to park: The city’s Metrorail stations offer flat-fee parking for $4.50 a day. Hop on and off the free Miami Trolley (routes and schedule here) for easy transportation to the college. Parking’s also free inside the college’s parking garage (500 NE Second Ave., Miami; entrance at First Avenue) throughout the fair, but valet ($7) is also available. If the garage is full, try the Convention Center Garage (100 SE Second St.) in the Bank of America building or College Station (190 NE Third St.; $5 flat fee). Doing metered street parking? Download the free PayByPhone app to ease the hassle. Bicycling? Bike valet at the book fair’s yellow entrance (Northeast Second Avenue between Second and Third streets) and receive $3 off Street Fair admission Nov. 18-19.
Miami Book Fair 2017 will take place Sunday, Nov. 12 through Sunday, Nov. 19 at Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave., in Miami. Call 305-237-3258 or download the full schedule at MiamiBookFair.com.
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