A popular Florida book fair’s in-person events are over, but the fun continues online.
This year, both virtual and in-person book lovers had the opportunity to attend the 38th annual Miami Book Fair, which was held in late November. The lineup featured more than 400 authors, including Les Standiford, Charles M. Blow, Lisa Taddeo, Asha Bromfield, Lauren Groff, and Anita Hill.
It marked the Florida fair’s return to its Miami Dade College campus home following the onset of the covid-19 pandemic. While 2021’s onsite events have concluded, virtual offerings will happen throughout the coming year.
Laura Lippman, who hosted a virtual talk with fellow bestselling mystery author Michael Connelly to discuss their latest novels — Dream Girl and The Dark Hours, respectively — said the experience was incredibly fulfilling.
“I am still a little bit in awe when I’m around Mike because he’s had one of the most impressive writing careers,” she said. “I’ve been to the [Miami Book Fair] several times, and what’s not to love?”
Although she regretted not being able to attend in person, Lippman said she looked forward to the day “we can all be back in the same room again.”
María Amparo Escandón, author of the novel L.A. Weather and a first-time presenter, said she’d always wanted to attend the event, both as a writer and a visitor. During a virtual presentation, Escandón explained that California’s extreme weather inspired her to write about a patriarch who becomes obsessed with the weather at the cost of his relationship with his family.
“I felt as an Angelino that it was my duty to debunk that theory that there is ‘no weather in L.A.,’” she said. “I tied it into my own experience with my father, who had a raspberry farm in Mexico and was completely absorbed with the topic of the weather.”
The fair’s director of programs, Lissette Mendez, said organizing a dual virtual/in-person event had its challenges. “When the pandemic forced us to switch to a virtual environment…none of us had the technology on hand that we needed to create a brand-new way of presenting a fair,” she said.
“That was the biggest challenge this year. Making sure video and live streaming worked and to make it happen.”
Like in previous years, the fair offered programs in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole. “Miami is a large, diverse community where there are so many different kinds of people, and we’ve always tried to mirror that,” Mendez said.
“Diversity is not only about race, but about culture, too, and what happens in other countries. I feel the more we know from people around the world, the more we can relate to different ways of thinking.”
The Miami Book Fair hosts virtual events year-round. Click here to see what’s coming in early 2022.
Adriana Delgado is an award-winning journalist and features writer. She has written author interviews and book reviews for the Palm Beach Post, the Palm Beach Daily News, and Blogcritics Magazine. Her stories have also been featured in MSN, USA Today, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Florida Today, and other outlets.