Do you know who has the most Twitter followers in the world? Katy Perry, with over 47 million. Do you know who is second? Justin Bieber, about 47 million. Third? Lady Gaga. One of the greatest things about the 30th and possibly the best Miami Book Fair is that Katie Perry, Justin Bieber nor Lady Gaga will be in attendance. But, if you look at the schedule, it feels like every other media and literary-giant is heading to Miami during November 17th - 24th.
This year's Fair feels very special.
There was a time when the Miami Book Fair was my favorite event of the year. I've been to at least 15. Living in California, I used to fly into Miami, not as a speaker or guest, but as a fan of the Fair. The intimacy and celebration of authors always made me feel that writing was not only a worthy profession, but a legitimate goal that could be actualized. The Miami Book Fair, in combination with a lust for reading, and training atFIU's laudable creative writing program, cemented my now life-long pursuit of letters. Over time, there have been years when I soured on the Book Fair. I understand the logistics of producing the event, but I don't like how they began to monetize the festival. It used to be free. It isn't anymore. I work on the campus where the festival takes place. It kind of gets in the way of my job and burdens my students with rather serious issues like parking and congestion.
But this year, it's different.
It's like a perfect storm of people publishing at the same time in combination with the 30th anniversary of the Fair -- this is not an understatement: the Miami Book Fair is the biggest and best book fair in the world -- this year is completely an illustration of that point.
If you're a news or political junkie, wet your pallet.
Where in the world will you find an event featuring ex Vice President Dick Cheney and the domestic terrorist Bill Ayers speaking hours from each other at the same venue? Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Congressman John Lewis are also in the house. MSNBC media elite like Joe Scarborough and Chris Matthews will share the same room, along with the authors of Game Change, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin who have a new groundbreaking book about the 2012 Presidential election.
Study the schedule: it's outstanding this year.
Love Fiction??-the festival kicks off with Dan Brown, author of The Di Vinci Code, the number-one adult hardcover of all-time. Wally Lamb, Pat Conroy, Mitch Albom, Scott Turow--these guys sell millions of books. Junot Diaz, Paul Auster, Walter Mosely--these guys changed the way we write. Meg Cabot, Amy Tan, Nikki Giovanni, Sharon Olds, Anjelica Huston--these women can move mountains. There's Pulitzer and Nobel winners.
You like poetry, cooking, non-fiction -- it's all here, on the highest level. All ethnicities, cultures, genres, all coming together. The Miami Book Fair is offering up a cultural equivalency of that popular '80s song for Africa: "We Are the World" -- there's a choice we're making, we're saving our own lives, it's true we'll make a better day just you and me.
Thank you Miami Book Fair. Thank you thirty times.
Of course they placed me at an after-hours event where authors argue in a bar, but give me a few years, Miami Book Fair -- I'll be out of the after-hours bar and into the auditorium.
Follow J.J. Colagrande on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jjcolagrande