Past<<<Present>>>and Forward The goal of the Miami Book Fair International has always been a shameless one. We wanted to see and hear the great authors of our time, in our own incredible city. We imagined the world’s largest and best dinner party – where all the guests have something interesting to say. It’s hard to believe now, with hundreds of thousands of people flooding our streets for Book Fair week every November, how few believed such a feat was possible in a resort town. But 25 years ago, the vision of a few and the hard work of many produced an immediately successful event, drawing about 25,000 people that first weekend. It was an idea whose time had come. From the beginning, we thought the Fair should reflect the diversity of the entire Miami community. We planned the dinner party under a very large tent, so there would be a place for everyone. Everything we do reflects this philosophy, from the selection of authors, to the international pavilions, to the types of publishers and booksellers showing at the street fair. We have always depended on a small army of volunteers, and sponsors to make sure it is a world-class event. Its growth has been based on collaboration and teamwork across a wide spectrum of our community. Ultimately, it was South Florida’s diverse community that proved the cynics wrong by enthusiastically embracing the Fair year after year. We like to think that the dinner party we started has served as an entry point for serious thinkers to take Miami seriously. And they carry the message of Miami with them wherever they go. There is a strong literary community here, one the Fair and Miami Dade College have worked to enrich. Through vision and literary persistence, we have helped change both the perception and reality of what Miami has become. In the years ahead, we pledge to be at the cutting edge of literary culture to keep the Miami Book Fair always relevant. So you and we, and our grandchildren will be able to celebrate our 50th anniversary in the year 2033.
Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón
President, Miami Dade College Honorary Chairperson, Miami Book Fair International
Chairperson, Miami Book Fair International
Executive Director, Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College
A Premier Program of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College |
| Miami Book Fair International : 25th Anniversary: 1984-2008
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Twenty Five Years: The Story of Our “Little” Book Fair by Rebecca Wakefield . ...................................................................... 6
We asked 25 Authors
The Evolution of the Graphic Novel by John Shableski.............................................................................. 32
Big Bang Theory/ Hijos del Big Bang
by Vera (Hernán Vera Álvarez) . ................................................... 38
A Writer’s Journey
by Tananarive Due........................................................................... 44
Miami Book Fair International Board of Directors Dr. Eduardo J. Padrón, Honorary Chairperson Mitchell Kaplan, Chairperson Barbara Skigen, Co-Chair Janell Walden Agyeman, Treasurer Alina Interián, Secretary Susan Cumins, Malou Harrison, Silvia Matute, June Rubin Mervyn Solomon, Robert Spano, Harvey J. Wolf Florida Center for the Literary Arts Staff Alina Interián, Executive Director Delia López, Director of Operations Penny Thurer, Program Coordinator and MBFI Author Liaison Dr. Roselyne Pirson, Program Coordinator, Reading & Children’s Programs Lissette Mendez, Program Coordinator, Workshops and Comix Galaxy Elaine Parker, Membership and Corporate Relations Manager Giselle Hernández, Exhibitor Liaison Sara McCranie, Computer Graphics Specialist Johanna Cuevas, Office Manager Christina Ferreras, Assistant Jessica Jonap, Special Programs Assistant Miami Dade College District Board of Trustees Helen Aguirre Ferré, Chair Peter W. Roulhac, Vice Chair Armando J. Bucelo Jr., Marielena A. Villamil, Mikki Canton, Benjamín León III, Robert H. Fernández Eduardo J. Padrón, President, Miami Dade College
by Edna Buchanan........................................................................... 48
Rolando Montoya, Campus President, Wolfson Campus
The Author is a Star
25th Anniversary Commemorative Magazine
by Sue Corbett.................................................................................. 54
Found in Translation
by Daína Chaviano (Translated by Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie).................................... 60
Living the Hyphen
by Joanne Hyppolite......................................................................... 66
Laughing on the Great Earth
by Michael Hettich........................................................................... 66
During the Week: Evenings with...
Concept, Production and Design ROCK Group Visual Branding + Advertising + Interactive www.myrockgroup.com Roch Nakajima, Bobby Harris, Felipe Osorio, Pilar Zeta, Robert Jeffcoat, Maria Pereyra, Ignacio Segura and Juan Carlos Ariano Editor Rebecca Wakefield Contributing writers Edna Buchanan, Daína Chaviano, Sue Corbett, Tananarive Due, Michael Hettich, Joanne Hyppolite, Aileen Ochoa, John Shableski, Hernan Vera, Rebecca Wakefield The entire contents of Miami Book Fair International: A Celebration of the Literary Arts are Copyright 2008 by ROCK Group LLC and Miami Dade College. No portion may be reproduced in whole or in part by any means, including electronic retrieval systems, without the express written permission of the publisher.
Weekend Events Grid Schedule
The Fair Goes Green ............................................................................................................ 96
Love After Love
by Derek Walcott.............................................................................. 98
A Premier Program of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College |
TWENTY FIVE YEARS
| Miami Book Fair International : 25th Anniversary: 1984-2008
by Rebecca Wakefield
THE STORY OF OUR “LITTLE” BOOK FAIR
A Premier Program of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College |
Chapter One: A Fair is Born In the early Eighties, nobody in their right mind thought a book fair, at least not a reputable one, had a chance of surviving in Miami. Miami was considered by the rest of the world a moldering graveyard of culture -- God’s Waiting Room for retirees, and “Paradise Lost” for everybody else. The Mariel boatlift and other massive waves of immigration, plus a cocaine cowboy crime wave and the exodus of old Miamuh society had left this town with the literary reputation of cotton candy. And as grandly decayed as the yet to be restored Art Deco district. But here and there, there were signs of cultural life. In 1982, a small bookstore in Coral Gables called Books and Books joined a handful of other local independent bookstores, such as Bookworks in South Miami and the venerable Downtown Book Center in the heart of the city. Each store sponsored its own festival, eclectic affairs somewhere between a book club and a flea market. Outside these modest oases of culture, though, “Miami had this reputation that it was only non-prescription drug books and old people and romance novels,” Books and Books
| Miami Book Fair International : 25th Anniversary: 1984-2008
Dr. Joaquin Roy, James Baldwin and Heberto Padilla
owner Mitchell Kaplan recalls. “But I was selling Raymond Carver, poetry, Jonathan Kozol, Philip Roth. I knew there was more going on.” Meanwhile, Dade County was nearing the end of its Decade of Progress, a time in which it built the Metrorail and Metromover, an art museum and libraries, among other ambitious public projects. While downtown Miami then resembled the set of a post-apocalyptic thriller starring Kurt Russell, there were a few visionaries who saw it as much more. A couple of librarians, notably Margarita Cano, thought that if they put together a really good book fair in Bayfront Park, it would help promote the nearby library branch. Cano, who built the library’s impressive art collection basically from scratch in the ‘70s and ‘80s, called all the booksellers and other librarians together for a meeting. “We were all gung ho,” says Raquel Roque, proprietress of the Downtown Book Center, which her family has run since 1965. But with the odds stacked significantly against them, a handful of librarians and shopkeepers stood little chance of getting anything much off the ground. Too many scoffers were skeptical that Miami in 1983 could support a large literary festival, or attract enough quality authors from out of town.
Mario Vargas Ilosa
Laurent De Brunhoff
A Premier Program of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College |
Armando Alvarez Bravo, Amelia del Castillo and Ana Rosa Nunez
But Juanita Johnson, then a librarian at Miami Dade Community College’s fledgling Wolfson campus, had an idea. She knew that the campus’ new president, Eduardo J. Padrón, was a big-picture thinker with transformative plans for the downtown campus. Padrón was looking for a way to promote the Wolfson campus and to build something of a community around it. He’d also recently been to an impressive book fair in Spain and saw the appeal. “I had a good idea of downtown Miami’s potential, and I felt that a book fair would be a big draw,” he explains. “Outsiders were portraying Miami as “Paradise Lost,” but I did not buy into that headline. I felt that a book fair would be a great way to invigorate downtown. With a small group of supporters, we simply had to believe in our idea. We just had to take that leap of faith.” Acting fast, he offered the group a venue, money and staff support that proved critical as they planned the very first Miami Book Fair International. The group, including the Fair’s first chairperson, Craig Pollock of Bookworks, fanned out across the literary world, wheedling publishers and authors, selling the story of why they should come here to this strange place called Miami.
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Hunter S. Thompson
The 1984 Fair, which at first went by the idyllic moniker of “Books by the Bay,” opened with an unlikely headliner -- a breakfast with Miss Manners, part of the Fair’s attempt to appeal to as broad a base of readers as possible. Some of the serious writers somehow convinced to head to the subtropics included Jorge Luis Borges, James Baldwin, Ken Kesey, Marge Piercy, Amiri Baraka and Heberto Padilla. Fair organizers, nearly all volunteers, knew that for the festival to be viable, it had to be accessible, even a bit commercial. Thus the roughly 100 authors and 125 publishers who came in 1984 spanned a range of genres and high to low culture. And even though Borges pulled out of his appearance at the last minute, some 2000 people attended three days of readings and workshops, while ten times that number flowed through the street fair, astounding cynics and supporters alike. “By the third session of the day, I realized this was going to work,” Roque reveals. “We brought in Reinaldo Arenas in a dialogue with a couple of other important Spanish authors. The audience was entranced. There was electricity in the air.”
Kids and Authors
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The whole area of downtown in and around the college campus was transformed into something like a Fellini film for culture-starved Miamians – in ways both unreal and hyper real. Some walked around in a daze, exclaiming to each other, “Wasn’t that…did you just see…?”
Chapter Two: The Evolution “I saw Marjory Stoneman Douglas toddling by at one of the first Fairs,” remembers Susan Cumins, a longtime volunteer and member of the MBFI board. “Claude Pepper, Allen Ginsberg, a lot of the old timers before they died.” In 1985, Allen Ginsberg, Garrison Keillor, Jerzy Kosinski and Mario Vargas Llosa were among the luminaries to regale the growing crowds flooding downtown Miami during one magical week in November. Not that the literary world had fully embraced the idea that South Florida could be more than a great place to have a lost weekend. “The first five years people were like, ‘Get real. Nobody in Miami is into this,’” Cumins says.
Les Standiford, James Crumley, and Kinky Friedman
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Often it took a publisher or author to experience the reality of the large and enthusiastic audiences before they got it: Miami reads. Author Les Standiford counts himself as one of the skeptics, when he first heard the vision of a big, bold Fair in Miami. Twenty-five years later, he’s a convert. He offers two memories that struck him – realizing that even great authors have problems while listening to John Updike detail all the places his new book was NOT to be found as he toured a bookstore in the Miami airport, and Barack Obama’s appearance at the Fair two years back, “because it reminded me that books and intelligent thought and political debate are an inextricable, indistinguishable part of the fabric of a worthy culture.” Padrón could not be more pleased. “What impresses me is that the fair is able to offer something for everyone, and that means that everyone attending can find something memorable,” he says. “There are simply too many great authors and great moments from fairs past to select a single favorite memory. It’s the overall effect of transformation that stands out for me – for a week, our downtown campus becomes a portal or a magic train that takes people to other worlds. It really is magical.” As the Fair evolved in the late Eighties, culture began to gain a foothold more generally, with new organizations such as the Miami International Film Festival and a renewed
Guillermo Cabrera Infante
Camilo José Cela
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Norman Van Aken
interest in Art Deco preservation. The University of Miami and Florida International University started MFA programs that attracted respected authors as instructors. There was also a large community of young journalists based here because Miami was the jumping off point for so many international incidents in Latin America and the Caribbean. As well, a number of marquee writers moved to or passed through Miami, making it the subject of various well-received books, including two 1987 classics by, respectively, Joan Didion and T.D. Allman. “It just became that people in the know began to know what Miami was,” Kaplan explains. “It was this whole stew that was happening. It was very exciting. It felt like you were in this place and helping to build consciousness. As we all know, writers are the underpinnings of everything. They tell the stories. They are the shapers. So whether it was a writer of Miami Vice, or a writer of Scarface, or a magazine writer or Didion and Allman, it was an incredible period.” In 1986, a favorite feature of the fair, Epicure Row, got started. This was an over-thetop section of the fair featuring various top chef-authors cooking up some of their recipes for the crowd. The same year, the Fair added a Young Authors Conference
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Alberto Ruy Sanchez
Children at play
for local students to interact with authors, now expanded and known as the Student Literary Encounters This was an addition to the popular Children’s Alley, still a favorite section of the Fair. Another draw was the Antiquarian Annex, a rich hunting ground for rare and out-of-print books. In 1988, an estimated 350,000 people visited the Fair, as well as 120 authors and 200 exhibitors from 25 countries. The Miami Herald’s book editor, William Robertson, offered kudos to the five-year-old Fair for its ability to dream big in the scope and the quality of its offerings, even if “it will never be as big as New York Is Book Country in terms of the number of people attending.” Twenty years later, all we can say to that is “Ha!” (New York is Book Country ceased to exist a few years back and indeed, Miami’s fair soon became much larger than that event had ever been.) Also that year, gonzo journalist Hunter Thompson lived up to his reputation. “He missed his plane, showed up two days later, completely out of it,” Kaplan recounts. “He asked somebody to run out and get him a bottle of Wild Turkey, which they did and then he disrobed on stage and doused himself with it. I see him at the end with these guys who got him the Wild Turkey. They were driving around in fish-tale Cadillac convertibles. I saw him in the back seat with his legs pointed straight up.”
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Rock Bottom Remainders
In 1989, the Fair gained the services of Alina Interián, who became – and remains – its executive director. Interián later ushered in Miami Dade College’s creation of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts, which not only manages the Fair, but also programs an impressive lineup of visiting authors to local college and public school classrooms, creative writing workshops and many other year-round initiatives. “I had been a fan of the Fair from the first year and jumped at the opportunity to join the team,” Interián says. “I saw potential in developing the international aspect and worked to increase outreach into the multi-national community that South Florida has become. I took special pride in expanding our Spanish author program, and our activities with school children. This still drives me. But what keeps me coming back for more is the colorful characters through the years and the endless stories of our guest authors. Maybe not quite as colorful as the Wild Turkey-drenched Hunter Thompson, but still…” A few of these memories: Anne Rice addressing a group of vampires in a Baptist church in downtown Miami, Garrison Keillor leading an audience of hundreds in a refrain of Amazing Grace, a near riot erupting among fans of “the Love Doctor,” Leo Buscaglia.
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Mario Vargas Llosa
These moments are also what entices the legion of volunteers to return every year to help a small cadre of professionals manage the Herculean task of squeezing hundreds of authors and exhibitors, thousands of fairgoers into one eight-day week in November. It is the possibility of witnessing magic. Such as Alice Walker holding a huge audience spellbound with her reading in 1989. And evening events with Saul Bellow and John Updike in 1990. For MBFI co-chair Barbara Skigen, 1990 offered a minor jaunt into the world of kidnapping authors, which she describes as “the night I fell in love with Ray Bradbury.” “It was my job to pick him up at the Omni and drive him to the college,” she says. “He wore a wrinkled linen suit, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is right out of a Southern novel.’ We started talking about his writing process. The fifteen minute ride took me 45 minutes. I just kept driving him around downtown in circles. I didn’t want to let him out of the car.” In 1991 Isabel Allende read for an evening, while in 1992, Anne Rice and Carl Sagan were among the headliners. Robert James Waller came in 1993, also the Fair’s tenth
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anniversary, with 225 authors attending. By this time, the Fair was the largest of its kind in the country. In 1994, a tropical storm forced the street fair off the soaked streets of downtown, but inside, the authors’ readings were still jam packed. In 1995, Raquel Roque got lost at the airport while picking up famed Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee. When she subsequently got a massive speeding ticket driving him to the Fair, he queried, “Are you sure you’re from the Fair?” In 1996, Al Franken and Bill Moyers regaled audiences. By 1997, when Stephen Jay Gould headlined, the Fair was being described this way: “Miami’s 14-year-old book fair has metamorphosed from a two-day event of 25 authors and 30 exhibitors into a $1-million-plus, weeklong literary jewel, with 270 authors, 300 exhibitors, more than 900 volunteers and a projected attendance of 500,000.” Also at this time, the Fair’s program of Spanish-language authors was growing from a small stage to its present position as a coveted venue for a who’s who in the Spanishlanguage literary scene. Caribbean authors were also featured prominently, attracting a number of celebrated writers to interact in unprecedented settings. Roque notes: “As the Fair has grown, it has kept that homespun yet international feel. It’s a beautiful event and also a commercial event. The beauty is the interaction between
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the reader and the writer. The book fair has become a community. It’s amazing that it has grown to be what it is.” It is pointless to continue naming authors who have graced the Fair with their wit and intellect over the years. The list exceeds 4700 names and everyone you ask has their own list of favorites. Ask Interián and she runs out of breath before she runs out of names. “I can think of very few writers I haven’t interacted with,” Mitch Kaplan says. “But for the Fair many of them wouldn’t have come here. Miami is one of the most underestimated cities. Writers are often very much surprised at the kinds of audiences. The beauty of the fair is it changes every year because the books change. I feel like I’ve had just the most remarkable seat at a literary parade in the last 25 years.” “I always knew Miami was hungry for culture and its image wasn’t reflective of the true soul of this town,” says Dr. Padrón. “The entire community has embraced the event, particularly our Miami Dade College community, which volunteers in droves and considers it a pride and joy. I have no doubt, 25 years from now, our grandchildren will still be attending Miami Book Fair International.” >MBFI
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Rick Bragg Russell Banks Q: What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. It has to be the attack of 9/11/2001, which has turned out to be one of those rare hinges that put a Before and After into the historical time-line. What are you reading now? The new Oxford edition of Herodotus. Among half a dozen other, more nearly contemporary books, both fiction and non-fiction. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? The written word, as such, has as viable a future as its past has been for the last thousand or more years. The delivery system will change, as it always has, from wet clay and stylus to papyrus to vellum scrolls to handset printed type to paperbacks and on to digital delivery systems. Human beings, our greatgrandchildren, will adjust to the change in delivery system with no more difficulty than my generation adjusted to reading Homer in a pocket-sized paperback. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? Surely I won’t be limited to three! I have gathered thousands of books in my personal library, and I hope my great-grandchildren will inherit (and read) from that cache my limited edition of Melville’s Moby Dick illustrated and signed by Rockwell Kent, my first American edition of Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter, and my first edition of Ulysses Grant’s two-volume Memoirs published by Mark Twain. These are great American texts, obviously, and will be still be around in 2033 in various formats, but they are also unique, antique objects with associations that will help my great-grandchildren feel physically as well as intellectually connected to their country’s past.
Dave Barry What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. The development of the Internet. Thanks to the Internet, I am able, sitting in my home, to waste time at a rate that, decades ago, it would have taken 10 people to achieve. What are you reading now? I just finished Hold Tight by Harlan Coben. Next, I plan to read the complete works of Marcel Proust. Or, have a beer. I have not made my mind up yet. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? I don’t know about you, but the way my vision is going, in 2033 I see me reading only things written in really HUGE fonts. Each individual letter would be the size of Shaquille O’Neal. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? I would pass along the complete works of Marcel Proust, since they would still be in mint condition.
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What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. This is hard. If you’re talking about significant events in general, then the years of the Bush administration have certainly left the deepest grooves in our lives, and the events of the past eight years have trembled the futures of our children. I am not just talking about political leadership, but the happenings of the past eight years: the terrorist attacks of 9/11; the controversial and mostly failed attempts at retribution in a war on terror with debatable purpose and success fought by brave young people who pay awful prices in an often unclear mission; a continuing partisanship in government and the ugly reality of a now frayed notion of unity; a decimated economy in which the gap between haves and have-nots just stretches and some Americans have no future at all. All of this bleeds into an election that seems to offer change, but with candidates who seem at times paper-thin. It’s enough to make a fellow want to go hide in a good book... But if you’re talking literary significance, I nod to Harry Potter, who led so many young people into a lifetime of reading. What are you reading now? I read a manuscript for a book by Sonny Brewer called The Widow and the Tree. I also read Carl Hiaasen’s Nature Girl and James Lee Burke’s Tin Roof Blowdown. As the holidays come closer, I’ll read Dickens. A Christmas Carol is one of the favorite things and I read it every year. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? It seems clear now that people will be reading their newspapers solely on a screen, or whatever technological wizardry takes the screen’s place. But books in their traditional form will endure, I believe. I hope I’m dead before I have to read a good mystery by tapping keys, or on a touch-screen. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? This is hard, too. To disappear inside, I would say Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. For its message, To Kill a Mockingbird. It would be hard not to include Moby Dick.
Andrei Codrescu Alan Cheuse What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. It’s the event of the Fair itself, year after year bringing readers and writers together in a time when the conventional wisdom has this circle shrinking more and more. What are you reading now? Classics and contemporaries...stories by young Irish writer Claire Keegan and the marvelous experimental American writer Chris Adrian, the new Philip Roth (our reigning elder genius of fiction) -- a new novel by Amitav Ghosh -- and novels by Willa Cather and John Steinbeck. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? Same way in English, left to right -- and diving down into fine narratives that meld interesting characters to family and society and history. Fiction is our way of making our dream lives palpable and easier to grasp. It makes the usually elusive but most important elements of consciousness alive and part of the waking world. As to the vehicle--an old fashioned book whose pages we turn, or some machine or screen on which images pass continually before our eyes--let the business people and technicians figure that out. The writer’s job is to produce the magic, whatever stage it plays on. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? War and Peace, Moby Dick, To the Lighthouse -- and five thousand others....
Sandra Cisneros What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. For me, it’s been 9/11 and the aftermath of hate, the public expression of Mexiphobia under the guise of Homeland Security. We are witnessing a rise in extreme xenophobia and hysteria not seen since the propaganda fomented by the Nazis. It’s the vilification of the displaced, the poorest of the poor forced into a hero’s journey of mythic proportions. What are you reading now? I’m rereading: Tempest Over Mexico, Rosa King; They Take Our Jobs and 20 Other Myths About Immigration, Aviva Chomsky; Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese; and discovering for the first time The Eagle and The Serpent, Martin Luis Guzman. I just finished the very satisfying new translation of The Underdogs by Mariano Azuela, that classic about the Mexican revolution that speaks so clearly to our own times. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? I don’t know the future of the written word, I don’t even know my own future, but I do know the spoken word and spoken stories have survived genocide and collisions of cultures, so I have great faith in spoken literature. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? I don’t have grandkids, but I have lots of students and nieces and nephews. Favorites of my own are: Hans Christian Andersen’s Fairy Tales; Merce Rodoreda’s The Time of the Doves; and Elena Poniatowska’s works.
What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. For myself, there were several, for the world there were myriads. I “covered” for NPR and ABC News the fall of the Ceausescu regime in Romania in December 1989, and that was one instance when the personal and the collective coincided for me. The communist country I was born in was no longer communist, which meant, above all, that I could return. I say “covered” between quotes because I went back after twenty-seven years in order to recover something of my childhood and adolescence, rather than write “news” stories. I suppose that the event known as Katrina, which was a storm and the breaking of the levees in New Orleans, had a similar personal-collective effect. The change in Romania occasioned the book, The Hole in the Flag: an Exile’s Story of Return & Revolution, (1991) and Katrina gave me New Orleans, Mon Amour. (2006). As a writer I’d have to say that my laptop and the Internet have been crucial, but that I realized the extent of the change only incrementally, after dozens of computers, so there was no dramatic moment, no “event.” What are you reading now? I read all the Roberto Bolaño books in English translation. He was a Chilean-born writer who lived in Mexico and was keenly aware of the New York poetry school, before he died at a relatively young age. Bolaño is, like Milan Kundera, a keenly intelligent writer who understands the tenuousness of distinctions between genres (“poetry,” “fiction,” “essay,” etc) and goes on writing as if it were the second most joyous activity in the world. I am also reading a lot of books and manuscripts for “Exquisite Corpse” (corpse.org), and I can testify that there are a lot of terrific writers out there who are ignored by “big” houses. The terrible and wonderful truth is that big publishing has become irrelevant to readers, who can very well find anything they want continued on next page >
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now via the Internet. It’s a mystery to me how anyone (publishers, writers) will make money in the future. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? The written word is in great shape and soon almost everyone will be skillfully making interesting sentences on the Internet. The true rare commodity will be the readers, who will most surely demand to get paid to read. The future is the age of the Reader-for-Pay. The best read writers will be the ones capable of paying the largest number of readers to tend their words. Businesses will also hire writers to embellish on a product (see, The Devil Wears Prada) which will be the only way word-producers will earn more than wordconsumers. The only true currency in 2033 will be Imagination: the ID (Imagination Dollar) will trade in both virtual and real worlds alongside every other currency. Trees can relax. We’ll be reading words on screens that will show up whenever we call them. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? Don’t Hate Your Grandparents, they Inherited a Screwed-Up World, Too. What Your Grandparents Really Did: A Guide to Useless Sentiment.
I’ve also seen the almost complete indifference of two Presidents, Ronald Reagan and George H. Bush, during the early years of the epidemic, when it was primarily afflicting gay men. Any gay man who started out 25 years ago imagining that he was considered the equal of all other American citizens can’t possibly have ended the last two and a half decades with the same illusion. Nothing has been remotely the same for me since then.
What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? I trust my great-grandchildren to choose their own books.
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What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? What’s fabulous and terrible about the future is, we really and truly have no idea. I’m old enough to have expected, as a child, a future that would involve shopping malls on the ocean floor, climate-controlled cities, and routine interplanetary travel. The word will survive, I’m sure about that, as will storytelling. I believe that just as certainly as I do in the survival of eating, sleeping, love, and sex. Whether it will be written, or manifested in some other way… we’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?
What are you reading now? You will of course want to smack me, but the truth is, Proust. Swann’s Way. This summer in Provincetown I was part of a small group of truly remarkable people who read Joyce’s Ulysses together, and it was so
illuminating and enlivening and just generally great that we’ve agreed to tackle Proust, the whole thing, over the winter. I’m not so grand or rarified as the above may imply. If you’d asked me the question a month ago, I’d have said, Lush Life by Richard Price. Which was fantastic – I adore Richard Price. For the rest of the winter, though, it’s me and Marcel P.
These books haven’t yet been written, but then those grandchildren have not, for the most part, been born.
What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. I suppose it’s indicative of our era that a question about the “most important event of the last twenty-five years” not only conjures dozens of possibilities, but the further question, most important to whom? For me, it was the AIDS epidemic. Surviving the epidemic, so far at least, has been more than a little like surviving a war. Like someone who’s been through a war, I’ve seen acts of heroism, cowardice, self-sacrifice, betrayal, and truly remarkable courage, the likes of which are not so abundantly on display during peacetime. The experience has expanded my sense of what it is to be human, and of what humans are capable of when pushed to extremes.
Try to Be Against the Future: the Past Was Bad Enough; a Manual.
John Dufresne What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. Well, for me it was hearing Alistair Macleod read from his novel No Great Mischief. He read the breathtaking passage where the family heading back to the lighthouse disappears under the ice! I thought this is what I’ve been trying to do — write this gracefully about grief, death, heartbreak. And what a voice he has. What are you reading now? Julie Hecht’s Happy Trails to You and J. M. Coetzee’s Disgrace. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? Well, I’ll be holding a book in my hands or the aide at the assisted living facility will be reading from it to me. Kindles will be passé, I’m sure. There’ll be some other incredible technology that just implants the book into our neocortex, and we access it with a coded series of blinks, close our eyes, and read the text. We will be reading — we can’t live without stories. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? The Odyssey; The Riverside Shakespeare, the Complete Works; Stories of Anton Chekhov.
Nikki Giovanni Jorge Edwards Qué evento siente que ha sido el más importante en los últimos 25 años y por qué? Internprete la pregunta como le parezca. El o los eventos más importantes? Las caídas de dictaduras en todos lados. El retroceso de la peste autoritaria en el mundo actual. Qué está leyendo en este momento? Qué leerá después? Releo El astillero, de Juan Carlos Onetti, para un curso que dicto en The University of Chicago. Leo el último libro de Julian Barnes, Nothing to be afraid of. Para después tengo en mi mesa The queen of spades and other stories, de Alexander Pushkin. Cuál es le futuro de la palabra escrita? Cómo ve a la literatura en el 2033? Espero que siga viva en 2033. Si por esa fecha ha muerto, tampoco estaré vivo para verlo. Cuáles tres libros les pasaría a sus tataranietos? Tres libros posibles: el Quijote, los ensayos de Montaigne, La guerra y la paz. Pero son demasiados los que se quedan afuera. Por eso no me gustan estos juegos.
What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. In the past 25 years of my knowing and loving the Miami Book Fair, I still think that first invitation is outstanding. I was up all night waiting for the article on me in the Miami Herald. I was thrilled to now be a “real” writer invited to the best book fair going. And over the years it is still thrilling to come to Miami and read my poems and see old friends like Mitch or meet new ones as I did last year, like Caroline Kennedy. What are you reading now? Children’s literature: Bring Some Apples and I’ll Make you a Pie, the young people’s biography of my dear friend Edna Lewis; A Visitor for Bear which I just love because I frequently feel like Mouse; and Bad Rats which I view as a companion piece to my very own The Grasshopper’s Song because they both ask questions about the worth of art and how we must both respect, enjoy and feel safe in the world in which we are living. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? I see human beings always doing four things: Eating, Drinking, Reading and Making Love - though not necessarily in that order. Reading is as necessary as any other survival tool. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? Sula by Toni Morrison, The Dew Breaker by Edwidge Danticat, Quilting the Black Eyed Pea by me. All three books question how the past imposes on the future and since I am in love with what is coming, all three instruct me to take care of the past so that the story can be properly told.
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James Hall What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. Obama. What are you reading now? James Lee Burke What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? We’ll be reading like this question is posed. Quick. Down and dirty. Texting with thumbs. Some will still be on the flatter brain wave pathways, I hope. The long, measured sentences that unroll with a cadence and elegance and old school pace that mimics the slow and beautiful rotation of the earth and the wheeling of the galaxies and all the primeval genetic code of the seasonal measuring of time that our forefathers knew as their daily routine. I hope it’s that. Or else. It’ll be be such frantic clipping of syllables that who cares? What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? Sun Also Rises. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The Maltese Falcon.
Charles Johnson What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. Isolating a single event, fixing it in time, is difficult to do, for most revolutionary (or evolutionary) phenomenon happen over time. Nevertheless, I would argue that the invention of the Internet (in the 1960s), then the World Wide Web (1989), the start of commercial usage (1992), and the Information Superhighway have transformed our everyday lives more than any other scientific or technological advance in my life time. As a writer and scholar, my work has been made immeasurably easier, and my productivity has been enhanced, by the information literally at my fingertips, and by the power to communicate and share documents with friends and colleagues all over the world. What are you reading now? Right now I’m catching up before fall quarter begins at the University of Washington on nine months of science publications for laypersons that I subscribe to but had little time to read during the 2007-08 academic year: Science News, Discover, New Scientist, and Scientific American; as well as nine months of Buddhist magazines that I write for frequently: Tricycle: The Buddhist Review (I’m a contributing editor), Shambhala Sun, and Buddhadharma. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? I seriously doubt that after creating written (as opposed to oral) languages human beings
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will abandon the “written word.” And I don’t believe we will ever abandon that time-honored form of communication and entertainment called books. But by 2033, I suspect we’ll see more improved versions of the Sony eReader, and perhaps electronic newspapers. Next year the Plastic Logic reader, which is the size of a piece of copier paper, will go on sale. Its makers say it will be capable of storing hundreds of pages of newspapers, books, and documents, and in the not too distant future will provide color displays with moving images. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? I would prefer to pass along about 3000 titles, instead of only three. (And isn’t this the same question raised at the end of George Pal’s 1960 film adaptation of H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine? Or a variation on, “What three books would you take to read if you were stranded on an island?” It’s really an impossible question. But if I had to limit my choice to just three and all other books, say, in the world vanished, I would select Plato’s Apology (Socrates’ Defense), The Diamond Sutra, and The Oxford English Dictionary.
Chip Kidd What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. Sadly, ‘important’ does not necessarily mean ‘positive’, so I would have to say the events of September 11, 2001. I don’t think I need to say why. What are you reading now? Manuscripts, as always. Just finished John Updike’s latest story collection — brilliant, as always. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? The written word has done just fine for many centuries, through many different technological evolutions, and will continue to do so. As long as we have eyes and brains, What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? I would pass on a good many more than three, but I guess I’d start with Charlotte’s Web when you’re a kid, To Kill a Mockingbird when you’re a teenager, and Lolita when you’re an “adult.”
What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. The most important event may turn out to be the fraudulent Florida election of 2000 which with the aid of a corrupt Supreme Court allowed George W. Bush to come to power without winning election. He has caused brutal and unnecessary wars, destroyed the economy, undermined American democracy through the use of wire taps, torture and many smaller but insidious attacks on our values, as well as destroying the prestige of the United States in the world, and, with any luck, sending a devastated Republican party back to the drawing board. In short, that one slight of hand in Florida has given the United States its most disastrous eight years in history and the Americans who did not vote for him, not to mention Iraqis and other peoples throughout the world who did not, will continue paying for years to come. What are you reading now? I have been reading a collection of short stories by Kevin Barry, a new Irish writer who I ran across on a recent trip there. As in person, Barry’s writing has a wonderful voice. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? If opera has survived into the 21st century, there is no reason to think the written word can’t do as well. I think pragmatic reading, reading for information, will become almost entirely electronic. But literature, good books, poetry, short stories, even little literary publications that earn nothing will survive for a loyal and active readership. But likely opera enthusiasts will be expected to pay high prices for their passion. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? To be honest, the books I would like to pass on to my great, great grandchildren, would be mine. Let them find Dostoyevsky and Hemingway and the wondrous complete works of Joyce Carol Oates in 3000 volumes on their own. Doesn’t Ms Oates feel the same way? I think for most of us who write, one of the fantasies is that our work will be passed on.
Dennis Lehane What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. I was invited to the Miami Book Fair in 1994 for my first novel. I still can’t get over how kind and generous an act that was of the organizers. After I read to the nine people who attended my reading (six more than I expected), I crossed the hall and stood in the back of a packed room to watch Michael Ondaatje read from The English Patient. Pitchperfect, that reading. Kind that gives you chills. Later I found out I’d slipped into the room by security-error, which made it that much cooler. What are you reading now? The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? I see us reading differently, but I do see us reading. What the “differently” is I can’t say because if you’d told me ten years ago there’d by a Kindle or even three years ago that I’d be able punch up an entire season of a TV show onto my computer, press a button, and send it to my TV in under two hours, I’d have accused you of being a sci-fi-fan-boy-geek. So I don’t see the written word being threatened but I do see its packaging facing some kind of flux. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? Depending on their age...The Great Gatsby, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Green Eggs and Ham
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Campbell McGrath Peter Matthiessen What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. The advent of the Internet and its effect, mostly beneficial, on the spread of education and communication here and abroad. (I should confess here that I myself am not yet “on the Web”, will never never “text” and don’t even have e-mail.) What are you reading now? All the dreadful news around the world, at a time (September-October 2008) when our nation appears to hover yet again on the brink of another catastrophic electoral mistake. Also, reading several novels at once, saving the least challenging for later in the evening. Also, various scientific, environmental and natural history reports and articles and related material. Also, occasional Zen Buddhist essays… What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? I have to believe there will always be readers and therefore a demand for the written word. By 2033, most printed matter will have disappeared (even books printed at home on demand), yet a few fine books will still be made for those who like to hold literature in their own hands, take it on trains and hikes, perhaps into the garden and into bed. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? Haven’t we already agreed there will be few if any printed books to pass along? My grandchildren will probably be stuck with one or two of poor old decrepit Great-Grandpa’s dusty books as souvenirs.
What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. The Book Fair related event I remember best is the reading of three Nobel Prize-winning poets -- Octavio Paz, Derek Walcott, and Czeslaw Milosz -- which took place at the Lincoln Theatre on Lincoln Road, sometime back in the 1990s. What an amazing, world-class, once in a lifetime evening. What are you reading now? Right now I am reading books about Picasso, Matisse, Modernism, surrealism, the poetry of Apollinaire, Max Jacob, Robert Desnos, Pierre Reverdy, and anything related to the life of Picasso -- I guess I should say that I am writing a poetic record/biography of Picasso. Of many good books, John Richardson’s biography of Picasso stands out as a monumental and compelling opus. Next? Hmm... What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? People will certainly be reading in 2033, though how many will be reading books, vs. some form of electronic text, is unclear. I am entirely a book person -- books define my entire life. But I suppose there were also scroll people once upon a time, and cuneiform tablet people, and before that guys who drew bison on cave walls. Books are such flexible, low maintenance artifacts that I doubt they will disappear any time soon, although new technologies will certainly push them further into the margins. As poetry demonstrates, having once been an entirely oral art form, now happily adapted to the printed page, the words matter more than the means of transmission. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? Only three books? It’s an impossible choice, as such preferences rise and fall with the years, seasons, and days of the week, but here’s today’s version: Leaves of Grass, War and Peace, and Fernand Braudel’s Civilization and Capitalism.
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Frank McCourt What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. 9/11, of course, and the idiotic response to it. For a moment the world loved America and we could have forged huge and warm alliances with other countries. Instead, we pulled our gunslinger act. We decided to go it alone. Look where we are now. What are you reading now? Right now I’m reading a collection of short stories, A Bit on the Side. Every year when he is not awarded the Nobel Prize I scratch my head over the dimness of the literature committee. Next book on my list: another stab at Don Quixote! What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? It goes on - from the scratchings on cave walls to the ‘convenience’ of Sony or Kindle readers - the word will live. A book is food. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? a) You can’t ignore the gorgeousness and splendor and poetry of the King James Bible. Besides, it’s a hell of a good read. b) Glory, folly, wisdom, humor, tragedy, married life - all to be found in The Iliad and The Odyssey. c) It might be a nineteenth century novel but it spills over into the twentieth and our own century, the twenty-first. That novel is Oliver Twist: meaty, exaggerated, sensitive and, again, a hell of a good read.
Joyce Carol Oates What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. This question is just too broad. Sorry! What are you reading now? I’m reading a contemporary American writer whose short stories I will be reviewing for the New York Review of Books....sorry, I can’t divulge the author’s name. Much of my reading is of my very gifted & varied contemporaries, & much of it is for review. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? People will always be reading, but perhaps not “print”-- it’s easy to envision a world of laptop or Kindle readers. But the instinct to read is deeply imprinted in our brains, I think. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson & Walt Whitman, Melville’s Moby Dick -- just to limit the titles to classic American literature.
What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. If a person can be considered an event (and we have researchers looking into this) then there’s only one possible answer: Mitchell Kaplan. No fleet has ever had a better admiral. Mitchell’s enduring calm through the many untold storms--and one very real storm, which is my runner up in “Important Events”--is either the result of unspecified medications, or Mitchell’s being “one cool dude,” and I opt for the latter. Fiercely intelligent, contagiously warm and a brilliant manager, Mitchell has put together the best volunteers and staff to run what is, without a doubt, the best book fair ever staged. What are you reading now? The Man Who Loved China (Simon Winchester); King Lear; To Kill A Mockingbird (the latter two are perennial repeats, this time because I’m teaching a university course in Shanghai, China this year. The first title, well... for the same reason.)
away to unexpected places. An electronic portal into a writer’s imagination. If physical books survive--and I hope and trust they will--they will likely need to be more easily recyclable or reusable, with organic inks and glues, requiring fewer steps than currently exist to turnaround an unwanted book into the next big seller. The industry needs to get away from grinding up stock and bleaching the pulp (typically shipping it overseas to Asia where the environmental restrictions are lower thus allowing the bleaching). At the same time we’re developing high tech reading devices, there has to be more thought put into the future of the physical book, or it may likely not endure, or will become so expensive that it will be a play toy of only the rich--and that would be it’s own story: a tragedy. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy; To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee; Peter and the Starcatchers, Barry and Pearson
What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? My “vision thing” for the future of books is an electronic ink e-book device that will incorporate a blazingly fast wireless connection and huge internal memory so that both fiction and non-fiction books are multi-media. Think: the newspapers and posters in Harry Potter films. Video and audio (holograms?) will be part of the reading experience, if desired, to both inform the reader and/or carry the reader
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Cuál es le futuro de la palabra escrita? Cómo ve a la literatura en el 2033? La palabra escrita, el lenguaje y la narrativa son partes esenciales de la identidad humana que nunca desaparecerán. Los cambios, que serán significativos, los veremos en el modo en que se distribuye y comercializa, en los medios y soportes. La literatura se transformará con la sociedad, como ha hecho siempre. Cuáles tres libros les pasaría a sus tataranietos? Más que un libro en concreto me gustaría transmitirles el amor y el respeto por todos los libros sin prejuicios ni excepciones y el interés por el lenguage, la narrativa, las ideas y el pensamiento para que fuesen ellos los que eligiesen sus lecturas y formases su identidad como lectores según su propio criterio y sensibilidad.
What are you reading now? I am currently reading Ivan Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? So long as humans need to communicate, the written word will be necessary, but it will not be generated like we do in 2008. Digital gadgets will replace pen and paper and books will reside in electronic forms that allow us to carry a whole library’s worth in our pockets. There will also be a return to the oral tradition as authors narrate their stories, whether into voice recognition devices that transcribe into text, or as readers of their own works for audio books. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? If I don’t value my own books enough to pass them on to my great grandchildren, I should reread and revise them again until they are worthy of future generations. Or I should get another job. I would also pass on the Iliad, the Odyssey, and War and Peace.
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What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. Of course it is impossible to single out one of the many unforgettable moments I have experienced in 25 years of attending and participating, but certainly there is: a-- the first book fair, terribly important for the obvious reasons (and because I once thought that the vision Mitchell Kaplan described to me back in 1982 was simply impossible) b-watching a capacity audience sit patiently through an interminable introduction for the outrageous Hunter S. Thompson and thinking, “How polite Miamians are.” Do I have to explain? c--listening to the great John Updike detail all the places his new book was NOT to be found as he toured a bookstore in the Miami airport while waiting to be picked up for his appearance, and thinking, “Oh hell, great or small, we are all in the same boat.” d-- but I will give this moment the “most important” designation: Barack Obama’s appearance at the Fair two years back, because it reminded me that books and intelligent thought and political debate are an inextricable, indistinguishable part of the fabric of a worthy culture. What are you reading now? I am reading Alan Furst’s Blood of Victory, first published in 2002, and saved for now like a good wine. If you loved the Hitchcock classics, you will love Furst’s novels. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? The word will always be “written” though the mechanics of that process and the medium in which that “writing” is conveyed to readers will certainly change.
Qué está leyendo en este momento? Qué leerá después? Estoy leyendo el segundo tomo de la magnífica historia del tercer reich del historiador británico Richard J. Evans, The Third Reich in Power y confio poder continuar con el tercer y último tomo, The Third Reich at War, que será publicado muy pronto.
What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. There is no ‘most important’ event in the past 25 years. Each is weighed against its consequences for individuals. The return of Mandela from prison, the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, the destruction of the Twin Towers, the devastating tsunami in Southeast Asia, the ravages of Hurricane Katrina are “the most” to the people directly affected by them. The moment we begin to list “the most” of anything, we judge from our narrow, vainglorious selves and trivialize others because they didn’t make them to our list, or because they didn’t happen to us.
Qué evento siente que ha sido el más importante en los últimos 25 años y por qué? Internprete la pregunta como le parezca. Pienso que más allá de eventos concretos, lo más significativo de los últimos años es el giro que la humanidad esta dando al dejar atrás el frágil equilibrio que quedó al término de la segunda guerra mundial para encaminarse de nuevo a una situación donde la radicalización y el pensamiento dogmático, la financialización y corrupción de la economía mundial y el declive del sistema de hegemonía y valores occidentales van a dar paso a un nuevo escenario donde el ideal de las democracias parlamentarias y las socieda des liberales y moderadas irán desapareciendo.
Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Zoé Valdés Scott Turow But not to fret, bibliophiles, less paper means more trees, and “for a small or not so small additional fee” one will probably always be able to order one’s reading materials in that quaint form once known as a “book.”
What are you reading now? I’m reading a very good collection of short stories, Captive Audience, by a young writer named Dave Reidy that has just been accepted for publication. What is the future of the written word? How do you see us reading in 2033? The written word has a brilliant future; its efficiency as a medium of communication is unrivalled. And the intimacy of literature, the directness of the connection between the author and the reader, will not be supplanted. But the delivery devices may change. I love books, but I’m not persuaded that there isn’t a gizmo, yet to be invented, that will be as portable, tactile — and waterproof. What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? It’s a different list every time I am asked this question, but here is today’s: 1. Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man by James Joyce; 2. The Complete Works of Shakespeare and 3. One book of mine. The last would not be my choice for anybody else’s great grandchildren but they are, after all, my great grandchildren and I’d like to be sure they know me on my own terms.
courtesy random house
Qué está leyendo en este momento? Qué leerá después? Estoy leyendo Les bains de Kiraly (Los baños de Kiraly) es una novela muy bella de Jean Mattern, acabo de leer Le fait du Prince (El hecho del Príncipe) de Amèlie Nothomb, una novela en la que ella nos devuelve a su magnífica Higiene del asesino, sin proponérselo. Los Baños de Kiraly es una obra extraordinaria, y es una primera novela, es un nuevo existencialismo. Cuál es le futuro de la palabra escrita? Cómo ve a la literatura en el 2033? El futuro de la escritura es muy vasto, la escritura es inagotable. Habría que preguntarse cuál será el futuro del papel, probablemente. En el 2033, y eso sí me da miedo, habrá escritores muy puros, no existirán los estilos literarios y un procesador corregirá cada error, cada faltita minúscula, entonces la personalidad del escritor detrás de la escritura desaparecerá, todo el mundo escribirá igual, sin errores propios, y con la imaginación muy atada, qué fastidio, qué aburrimiento. Pero siempre habrá alguien diferente que rompa con la uniformidad... ¿Ve usted? Desde ahora ya le estoy narrando una historia del 2033. ¿Es una fecha especial? ¿Dijo algo Nostradamus al respecto? Cuáles tres libros les pasaría a sus tataranietos? Depende de la edad que tengan, pero de pequeños les daría: Platero y yo de Juan Ramón Jiménez, Alicia en el país de las maravillas de Lewis Carroll y La historia interminable de Michael Ende.
What three books would you pass on to your great-grandchildren? As opposed to trying to think of the three essential books, I will pick three for reasons that matter to me, in no particular order of importance. I trust that other conservators will see to the well-roundedness of my greatgrandchildren. First, and I am sorry if anyone out there finds this offensive -- I would pass along one of MY books, though certainly not because I believe any of them is somehow “better” than the myriad other choices (hey if they are not worth being read, then why bother to write them?). As to which one, you will have to ask me on my deathbed. Secondly, I think I would slip along a copy of Street Eight by Douglas Fairbairn, because his slender novel captures perfectly the essence of the Miami to which I came to live in the 1980s, and which indeed proved a singular place to the rest of the world. And finally, Dickens’s Great Expectations, as an example of the brawling, energetic, romantic works I have always loved. There, that ought to suggest what made your great-granddad tick, you ungrateful little ankle-biters of the future!
What event do you feel has been the most important in the past 25 years and why? Interpret the question as you wish. It’s either 9/11 or the first time I sang with the Rock Bottom Remainders at the Book Fair in November, 1999.
Qué evento siente que ha sido el más importante en los últimos 25 años y por qué? Internprete la pregunta como le parezca. El evento más importante de estos últimos 25 años es la Feria del libro de Miami, ¿no? Para mí, en serio, el evento más importante no es uno, son todos aquellos que se han hecho para la conservación y preservación de la naturaleza en nuestro planeta. Para que la vida sea una vida sana.
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The Evolution of the Graphi c Novel By John Shableski
ry o t s hi orm f e i A br n art f of a
If you haven’t discovered graphic novels yet, this year’s Miami Book Fair International offers an opportunity to experience this cutting edge reading format. What are graphic novels? They are books that pair sequential art or comic drawings with text. Will Eisner, coiner of the term and father of the art as we know it today, called it “a creative process that employs the skills of an accomplished writer and an artist of great sophistication.” NARUTO Courtesy of NARUTO © 1999 by Masashi Kishimoto/SHUEISHA Inc. YELLOW KID and BUSTER BROWN COURTESY OF WIKIMEDIA ALL OTHER COURTESY OF RANDOM HOUSE
The Yellow Kid was a character in Richard F. Outcault’s, Hogan’s Alley (1894). It was one of the first Sunday supplements in an American Newspaper.
Buster Brown, the orginal bad boy was created in 1902 by Richard Felton Outcault.
They can be a single story developed specifically as a book, like Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, or as a series of related stories, such as Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. They have been around for ages and have taken on different iterations over time.
Graphic novels have a deeply rooted history as both a literary and visual art form. The use of images to communicate dates back some 40,000 years to illustrations drawn on caves in France. Hieroglyphics have been documented in ancient Egypt and in the Mayan ruins. These images represent highly evolved and very effective forms of storytelling. In the earliest days of this country, comics and cartoons were a commonly used platform for political statements, whether it was to declare American independence or to denounce slavery. There was a great deal of power in the use of comic illustrations, a tradition that continues today. Seduction of the Innocent is a book by Dr. Frederic Wertham, published in 1954, that warned that comic books were a bad form of popular literature and a serious cause of juvenile delinquency.
Comics found a new kind of audience and fame in the late 1800s with the creation of a character called The Yellow Kid. Richard Felton Outcault created him as a vehicle for social commentary on life in Victorian-era New York City. The following for this character became so strong that it led to a battle between two newspaper behemoths, Joseph Pulitzer and Randolph Hearst, over who would have the rights to print the comic strip. The arrival of the Yellow Kid took place at a moment when newspapers ruled as the primary source of information. The Sunday comics of the newspapers were the most heavily read sections and helped to spawn a secondary industry for comics: commercial licensing. Yellow Kid was soon seen on everything from dolls to boxes of soap. Not too long afterwards, Outcault created another commercially successful comic strip character named Buster Brown who spoke to many issues of the day, including the evils of smoking. The comic book industry was just beginning to flourish by the very early 1930s with Flash Gordon, Tarzan, and Dick Tracy -- all a part of what is now known as the Golden Age of comics. Superheroes Dick Tracy was created by cartoonist Chester Gould in 1931
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First newspaper comic of Flash Gordon (1934) was originally drawn by Alex Raymond Tarzan was adapted in comic strip form in early 1929. Tarzana, California where Burroughs lived was renamed in honor of Tarzan in 1927. .com Courtesy
as we now know them didn’t exist until Superman, who finally arrived on the scene in the late 1930s. By this time comics had a major presence on newsstands across the country.
At this moment you have to take a step back and look at a bigger picture of what was happening in American society. Rock and roll had virtually exploded. Movies like Blackboard Jungle and Rebel Without a Cause were in theaters. Traditional publishing was offering up new voices like Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. The television industry had replaced movies and the radio as our primary source of entertainment. Even with all of this “youth culture” comics was the only art form that took the heat for increasing the level of juvenile delinquency and the publishers were brought in before Congress to defend their industry.
MAD was founded by editor Harvey Kurtzman and publisher William Gaines in 1952.
House of Random Courtesy
“APPROVED” by the CCA created in 1954 in response to public concern about what was deemed inappropriate material in many comic books.
In the 1950s, there was a sense of uncertainty in the country. America was reeling from the Cold War and political witch hunts from the McCarthy hearings to Hollywood blacklisting. Controversy began to brew in the comics industry when a psychiatrist named Dr. Frederick Wertham wrote several articles about the poisonous effects of comics on the adolescent brain. These were followed by his book Seduction of the Innocent, where Wertham made some astonishing connections between the increase in juvenile delinquency and comics. His scathing judgments led to a public outcry and book burnings across the country.
Courtesy King Features Syndicate
The Spirit was created by artistwriter Will Eisner in 1940 in a Sunday paper comic insert.
It wasn’t Wertham’s book that was the ultimate undoing of comics; it was the publishers themselves. In an effort to appease Congress, the publishers banded together to create the Comics Code Authority (CCA), which was a tool meant to enforce “good
Courtesy of DC COMICS
Courtesy of Random House, Inc. Courtesy of Random House, Inc.
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Art Spiegelman’s masterpiece was first published in August 1986
publishing” for the industry. With this code, gruesome acts of vampirism, ghouls and things that nightmares were made of were not to be depicted. Negative depictions of government officials were also considered taboo. With all the fun stuff and the underpinnings of social commentary gutted, sales plummeted to barely a whisper. Prior to the Code, sales of ten-cent comics were well above 100 million dollars annually. Aside from Archie’s, MAD magazine and a few others, the industry muddled along putting out fare that was essentially edited to meet the code. The writers for the Archie’s books never had to worry about changing anything to meet the code as their content contained nothing controversial. Mad survived thanks in large part to its own subversive nature. By reformatting as a magazine, they were no longer considered a comic book and strong sales of Mad ensured its position at the newsstands.
Courtesy of Random House, Inc.
Bone is written and drawn by Jeff Smith. 55 issues of Bone were published between 1991-2004.
Scott Pigrim was created by Bryan Lee O’Malley and first published in 2004. The series is about a 23year-old Canadian slacker, hero, wannabe-rockstar, who is living in Toronto and playing bass in the band “Sex Bob-Omb.”
Courtesy of oni press
Courtesy JEFF SMITH
Courtesy of Random House, Inc.
Watchmen is a 12 issue comic book series created by by writer Alan Moore, artist Dave Gibbons and colorist John Higgins. It is currently being adapted into a movie by 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros.
Thus a new world of “underground comics” from the likes of Robert Crumb and Art Spiegelman began to evolve. Another survivor of the comics dark ages was Will Eisner. Eisner’s works date back to the 1930s when comics were just beginning and carried on through a revolution of the art form with his first graphic novel A Contract with God in 1978. Contract marked a significant moment as it introduced a format for comics that was much longer than the typical pamphlet-style comic book. In the early ‘90s the format took another great step forward with the arrival of a brilliant book called Maus: A Survivor’s Tale by Art Spiegelman. So compelling was his depiction of his father’s experience in the Holocaust that he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and with this award the graphic novel format gained a new level of credibility. In the mid-‘90s, Alan Moore’s The Watchmen, Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns and Neil Gaiman’s Sandman all found a strong following not only as comic book series but also as graphic novels. And the format also was being influenced from the East as manga, a new form of graphic novel that reads from back to front, was introduced from Japan. Where did these books first catch on? In libraries, with teens and tweens. Librarians who were early to adopt graphic novels into their collections began to see strong circulation numbers. Where an adult bestselling title would be checked out once every seven days, a given graphic novel was being checked out daily. This same audience was suggesting different genres and creating reading clubs. While readership for western culture graphic novels like Bone, Blankets, Scott Pilgrim, Hellboy and Watchmen
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of Dark Horse
Courtesy of Hachette Book
continued to grow, manga played a huge role in the evolution of the market with titles such as Fruits Basket or Naruto. Beyond the library, most readers began to rely on the Internet to find more graphic novels. The new entertainment medium made everything more accessible.
Robert Crumb is one of the founders of the underground comix movement which began to appear in the late 60s.
If you thought these books were only for kids, pick up a copy of The Dark Tower: A Gunslinger Born by Stephen King, or Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer. Other New York Times bestselling authors, including Laurell K. Hamilton, Jodi Picoult and James Patterson, are crossing over to write for this exciting new medium. These authors and many others now see graphic novels as a natural next step in the evolution of storytelling. The growing popularity of graphic novels hasn’t been lost on the rest of the entertainment world. Many of last summer’s blockbuster movies were based on graphic novels: Iron Man, Hellboy, Wanted and The Dark Knight Returns. Eagerly anticipated movie versions of The Spirit from Will Eisner and The Watchmen from Alan Moore are coming soon. As long as the movie studios view the graphic novel industry as fertile ground for juggernaut movies, you will continue to see more publishing houses cultivating great stories for readers.
Blankets is a graphic novel by Craig Thompson, published in 2003 by Top Shelf Productions. A memoir, the book tells the story of Thompson’s childhood in an Evangelical Christian family, his first love, and his early adulthood.
Courtesy of N O ARUT 99 by © 19 Masashi EISHA
/SHU Kishimoto Inc.
The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born is a seven-issue comic book limited series, published by Marvel Comics. It is the first story arc of five based on The Dark Tower series of novels by Stephen King.
The 25th anniversary of the Miami Book Fair International marks a watershed moment for graphic novels. Although there have been major annual conventions of comics geniuses and their fans for years, this is the first time the genre has been given equal billing in a major literary festival. Creators like Art Spiegelman, Chip Kidd, and others from around the country are here in Miami to discuss their craft right alongside 400 “traditional” authors. Be sure to take a tour of the Comix Galaxy where you can explore graphic novel stories of all genres and styles and meet the artists and writers behind these exciting works. >MBFI
copyright Craig Thompson. Published by Top Shelf Productions
of M Courtesy
Hellboy was created by writerartist Mike Mignola. The character premiered at the Great Salt Lake Comic Convention in 1991.
Naruto is an ongoing Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto with an anime adaptation.
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38 | Miami Book Fair International : 25th Anniversary: 1984-2008
by Vera (Hernán Vera Álvarez) translated by Celeste Fraser Delgado
Hijos del BIG BANG
25 años de literatura latinoamericana
Big Bang Theory
Contemporary Latin American Literature Beyond Magical Realism
The morning of April 8, 1963, on board the transatlantic cruise ship Federico C. in the port of Buenos Aires, the Polish writer Witold Grombowicz was about to end his intense, 24-year stay in South America. On deck of the boat that would bring him back to Europe, before a group of young writers and intellectuals, he shouted: “Boys, kill Borges!” So Grombowicz shone a light on the specters that obscured the vision of all aspiring writers. Who can shrug off the image and commandments of our fathers lightly? Fortunately, for the past 25 or 30 years, Latin American writers have perpetrated a delightful parricide and paid for their daring by inventing a new literature with each new book. To prove the point there’s Ricardo Piglia, Juan José Saer, Tomas Eloy Martínez, Cesar Aira, Rodrigo Fresán, Osvaldo Lamborghini (Argentina), Edmundo Paz Soldán (Bolivia); Roberto Bolaño, Alberto Fuguet, Pedro Lemebel, Alejandro Zambra (Chile); Laura Restrepo, Fernando Vallejo, Santiago Gamboa, Mario Mendoza, Jorge Franco (Colombia); Mayra Montero, Daína Chaviano, Zoe Valdés, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Antonio Orlando Rodríguez (Cuba); Rodrigo Rey Rosa (Guatemala), Horacio Castellanos Moya, Roberto Quesada (Honduras),Cristina Rivera Garza, Juan Villoro,
La mañana del 8 de abril de 1963, a bordo del trasatlántico Federico C., en el puerto de la ciudad de Buenos Aires, el escritor polaco Witold Gombrowicz estaba a punto de cerrar el largo e intenso capítulo que significó sus 24 años de vida sudamericana. En la cubierta del barco que lo llevaría de regreso a Europa y ante un grupo de jóvenes escritores e intelectuales, se despidió gritando: “¡Muchachos, maten a Borges!”. De este modo, Gombrowicz alumbraba los fantasmas oscuros que distraen la visión de todo artista cachorro. ¿Quién acaso logra sin dificultad sustraerse de la imagen y el mandato paternos? Afortunadamente, en los últimos 25 años de literatura latinoamericana – señalo esta fecha por el tema del artículo pero podríamos extenderla a 30 o 35– sus creadores han efectuado un delicioso parricidio pagando por esa osadía el precio de dar con cada nuevo libro nueva literatura. Allí están para confirmarlo Ricardo Piglia, Juan José Saer, Tomas Eloy Martínez, Cesar Aira, Rodrigo Fresán, Osvaldo Lamborghini (Argentina), Edmundo Paz Soldán (Bolivia); Roberto Bolaño, Alberto Fuguet, Pedro Lemebel, Alejandro Zambra (Chile); Laura Restrepo, Fernando Vallejo, Santiago Gamboa, Mario Mendoza, Jorge Franco
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Mario Bellatin, Guillermo Fadanelli, Ignacio Padilla, Jorge Volpi, Albero Ruy Sánchez (México); Iván Thays, Santiago Roncagliolo, Jorge Eduardo Benavides (Perú); Mayra Santos-Febres (Puerto Rico), Alberto Barrera Tyszka (Venezuela). Many of these writers have graced the stage at Miami Book Fair International in the last 25 years. Nevertheless, an attentive reader will find in this list of authors coincidences and rejections, apologies and feuds. But nowhere any trace of magical realism. During what came to be known in the 1960s as the Latin American Boom, there was one figure who distorted the image of Spanish-language literature both for Latin American readers and for export: Gabriel García Márquez. Of course, One Hundred Years of Solitude was one of those rare books that appears sui generis and instantly becomes a classic among classics. The only problem was that for years after its publication, publishers and to a large degree the public demanded that every book recount the adventures of the Buendía family. Apart from some obvious imitations and empty clones, Latin American literature today has overcome this cliché and now explores an urban identity that is alternately raw and cosmopolitan. Were Grombowicz to set sail today, he might substitute García Márquez for Borges, shouting: “Boys, kill Gabo!” Perfect, musical, aesthetic. Super groups of authors in the ‘80s, ‘90s, and early ‘00s declared their independence from the rural villages of magical realism and claimed the city beneath the banners of McOndo (a play on the town of Macondo, where One Hundred Years of Solitude was set) or Crack (a hyperurban movement in Mexico) or Bogotá 39. The destination might be Mexico City, Lima, Buenos Aires, or Caracas, but the city is always the new literary heart of darkness. That might be the only local color that tints the territory of La Mancha, as Carlos Fuentes once called literature in Spanish. The terror takes the form of Campo Elías Delgado, Vietnam vet and serial killer responsible for 25 murders in contemporary Bogotá (Satanás, M. Mendoza) or a teenager showing off expensive American sneakers (made in Singapore) and packing a .45 in search for a new client (La Virgen de los Sicarios, F. Vallejo). Or simply an embalmed cadaver who rattles one and all with unanswered
(Colombia); Mayra Montero, Daína Chaviano, Zoe Valdés, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez, Antonio Orlando Rodríguez (Cuba); Rodrigo Rey Rosa (Guatemala), Horacio Castellanos Moya, Roberto Quesada (Honduras),Cristina Rivera Garza, Juan Villoro, Mario Bellatin, Guillermo Fadanelli, Ignacio Padilla, Jorge Volpi, Albero Ruy Sánchez (México); Iván Thays, Santiago Roncagliolo, Jorge Eduardo Benavides (Perú); Mayra Santos-Febres (Puerto Rico), Alberto Barrera Tyszka (Venezuela). Sin embargo, un lector atento – y sabemos que los lectores que concurren a este tipo de eventos por lo general lo son– encontrará en la lista de autores coincidencias y rechazos, apologías y colecciones de odios. Pero nada, absolutamente nada de realismo mágico. Si ha habido una figura dentro de lo que se dio en llamar en la década del ’60 el Boom Latinoamericano que distorsionó en gran medida la literatura en español de puertas adentro pero también for export fue Gabriel García Márquez. Por supuesto: “Cien años de soledad” es uno de esos libros publicado para ser instantáneamente un gran clásico de clásicos, una obra que se creó un origen sin filiaciones. El problema fue que durante años los editores y parte del público exigieron nuevas aventuras de la familia Buendía. Salvo groseras imitaciones, clones vacios, hoy la literatura latinoamericana le ha ganado a ese cliché y se desliza entre el filo de la cruda realidad urbana y cosmopolita. Por eso, donde se dice Borges póngase un García Márquez y la frase quedará “¡Muchachos, maten a Gabo!”. Perfecta, musical, estética. Bajo el resguardo de McOndo, el Crack o Bogotá 39 – súper combos de autores creados en la década del ’80, ‘90 y principios del ‘00, respectivamente– esas voces forman una sola llena de los matices que generan los 19 país de la región. Las escalas pueden ser el D.F, Lima, Buenos Aires, Caracas pero la ciudad es el corazón de las tinieblas. Se diría que ése es el único color local que destiñe “el territorio de la Mancha” como dijo Carlos Fuentes a propósito de la literatura en español. El terror es Campo Elías Delgado, veterano de la guerra de Vietnam y ejecutor de 25 asesinatos en el Bogotá actual (“Satanás”, M. Mendoza, Premio Biblioteca Breve Seix Barral 2002) o un niño-adolescente mostrando sus caros sneakers norteamericanos (made in Singapur) y el cargador
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prayers, enigmas, and threats (Santa Evita, T. Eloy Martínez). At times this terror is revealed in the sex and heat amid a city’s refuse (Filthy Havana Trilogy, P.J. Gutiérrez) or in brief, iconoclastic postcards (Insane Affinitity: AIDS Chronicles, P. Lemebel). Ironically, these are all B-sides of a hallucinatory Macondo, born of the logic of magic realism’s worst nightmares. We’ll say it: urban, yes, but also cosmopolitan. This narrative respectfully and elegantly turns its back on the indigenous novel, the rural novel. Some narrators desire to expand their territories and travel through time. We can read a novel by a Mexican author (such as Ignacio Padilla and his Tuscan Grotto) about the Himalayas and the search for Dante’s nine circles of hell in the outskirts of Paris where a serial killer attacks elderly women (The Quest, J. J. Saer) or an odyssey undertaken by the new pariahs in the Age of Aquarius (The Ulysses Syndrome, S. Gamboa). And we shouldn’t leave out another Mexican author, a disciple of French thinker Roland Barthes, who recreated a mythical Morroco in the saga of the imaginary kingdom of Mogador (Names in the Air and The Secret Gardens of Mogador). At the other extreme, we find the figure of the flâneur. Through his wandering and distant gaze, free of prejudice, we see the profundity of the human condition. As writer and filmmaker Edgardo Cozarinsky (called by The Guardian “a fascinating and underappreciated author”) points out in his novel Nocturnal Maneuvers: “I am and remain a flâneur. I’m a visitor, always passing through, lending myself to the scene as I please without surrendering myself.” Since walking is the same as reading, these urban tales are a way of rereading history. That’s where we can see explicitly the ideology of these new authors. Far from the pamphlets of any revolutionary yet not disillusioned, since this generation never believed in any political party or great leader. The only conviction is to aesthetics. For this artistic vision there are many sources: crime fiction with a strong North American influence, journalistic chronicles and reportage, and, above all, the intelligent appropriation of multimedia in popular culture (TV, film, Internet). There are plenty of writers who feel no embarassment whatsoever in
de un revólver 45 en busca de un nuevo cliente (“La Virgen de los Sicarios”, F. Vallejo). O simplemente un cadáver embalsamado que estremece a unos y otros por plegarias desatendidas, por enigmas y peligros (“Santa Evita”, T. Eloy Martínez). A veces ese terror es iluminado por el sexo y el calor de entre los escombros una ciudad (“Trilogía sucia de La Habana”, P.J. Gutiérrez, finalista del Premio Herralde de novela 1998). O en breves postales iconoclastas (“Loco Afán: Crónicas de Sidario”, P. Lemebel). Irónicamente, todas versiones lado B de un Macondo alucinado, provisto de la lógica de las peores pesadilla. Lo dijimos: urbana sí pero también cosmopolita. Una narrativa que le da la espalda con elegancia y respeto a la novela indigenista, de campo. Algunos narradores tienen el deseo de expandir los territorios y dar un salto en el tiempo. Podemos leer tanto la novela de un autor mexicano (es el caso de Ignacio Padilla y “La gruta del Toscano”) sobre el Himalaya y la búsqueda de los nueve círculos del Infierno dantesco a principios del siglo XX como las peripecias en la ciudad de París de un serial killer de ancianas o la odisea de los nuevos parias en la era de Acuario (“La Pesquisa”, J. J. Saer; “El Síndrome de Ulises”, S. Gamboa, respectivamente). Sin olvidar a otro autor mexicano, discípulo de Roland Barthes, Albero Ruy Sánchez, que recrea un Marruecos mítico en la saga del reino de Mogador (“ Los nombres del aire”, “Los jardines secretos de Mogador”) Y en ambos extremos la figura del flâneur. A través de su mirada libre de prejuicios, errática y no menos distante, transparenta las profundidades de la condición humana. Como señala el escritor y cineasta Edgardo Cozarinsky (según The Guardian “un autor fascinante e injustamente oscuro”) en la novela “Maniobras Nocturnas”: “Soy, sigo siendo un flâneur. Estoy de visita, siempre de paso, prestándome sin entregarme al escenario de mi placer”. Y si caminar no es otra cosa que leer, las narrativas urbanas como las que suceden en diferentes lugares son una manera de releer la historia. Es por ahí donde se cuela la ideología que podemos explícitamente ver en los nuevos autores. Alejados del panfleto de cualquier revolución pero sin desencanto, ya que nunca hubo una creencia en un partido o líder político. Acaso el único compromiso sea estético.
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admitting that they love writing for telenovelas or that they produce their work with the vertiginous rhythm of a sitcom. That’s the point: speed. At times the pace is so quick, the result seems to be fast fiction. That’s where speed leads: to seemingly frothy novels that are actually quite deep. A few examples include Pudor (Modesty, by S. Rongagliolo and made into a film by Tristán Ulloa), Palacio Quemado (Burnt Palace, E. Paz Soldán), Malacara (Bad Face, G. Fadanelli), El Rufián Moldavo (The Moldavian Ruffian, E. Cozarinsky), Varamo (C. Aira), Mala Onda (Bad Vibe, A. Fuguet). Other writers insert graphic images in their texts in the blogosphere: I. Thays and the unpredictable Moleskine.com and C. Rivera Garza’s novel as work in progress. To talk of the last 25 years of Latin American literature is to confirm the existence of a new canon. This library includes Novels and Stories (O. Lamborghini), Artificial Respiration (R. Piglia), Santa Evita (T. Eloy Martínez), Savage Detectives and 2.666 (R. Bolaño), Beauty Shop (M. Bellatin), Our Lady of the Assassins (F. Vallejo), Before Night Falls (R. Arenas), In Search of Klingsor (J. Volpi). While distinct from each other, these works could not have been written in any other era since they speak to the world their authors had the luck to inhabit. Nothing more and nothing less. In the First Conference of Latin American Writer in Seville held in June 2003, Rodrigo Fresán invited his and subsequent generations to “pursue a Big Bang rather than a boom or a crack.” A cosmic cataclysm that would be both defining and definitive would disperse the stars so that each soars its own way. There is so much space in space. And, in that way, space is a like a black page, filled with light.” Let there be light. >MBFI
Para esa visión artística del mundo los recursos son varios: el policial negro en una obvia influencia de la narrativa norteamericana, la crónica e investigación periodística y, sobre todo, el saqueo inteligente de los mecanismos de los medios audiovisuales populares (tv, cine, Internet). No son pocos los escritores que no se ruborizan al decir que les encanta escribir para las telenovelas o plantean sus obras con el mismo ritmo vertiginoso de una sitcom. Ahí esta el punto: la velocidad. La velocidad que hace creer que en más de una oportunidad se está frente a una novela rápida. Pero la velocidad da eso: novelas falsamente ligeras pero verídicamente ondas, o si se quiere “profundas”. Algunas de ellas son “Pudor”, llevada al cine por Tristán Ulloa, de S. Roncagliolo , “Palacio Quemado” (E. Paz Soldán), “Malacara” (G. Fadanelli), “El Rufián Moldavo” (E. Cozarinsky), “Varamo” (C. Aira), “Mala Onda” (A. Fuguet) . Otros escritores prefieren colocar lo visual en el texto en la blogósfera – I. Thays y su imprescindible Moleskine.com; C. Rivera Garza publicó en una suerte de work in progress una novela. Hablar hoy de los últimos 25 años en la literatura latinoamericana es, además, comprobar la existencia de un nuevo canon. En esa biblioteca conviven “Novelas y cuentos” (O. Lamborghini), “Respiración artificial”, (R. Piglia), “Santa Evita” (T. Eloy Martínez),”Los Detectives Salvajes” y “2.666” (R. Bolaño), ”Salón de Belleza” (M. Bellatin) , “La Virgen de los Sicarios” (F. Vallejo), “Antes que anochezca” (R. Arenas), ‘En busca de Klingsor” (J. Volpi). Son obras muy diferentes entre sí pero imposibles de haber sido escritas en otra época ya que hablan del mundo que les toco en suerte. Nada más ni nada menos. En el Primer Encuentro de Escritores Latinoamericanos en Sevilla realizado en junio de 2003, Rodrigo Fresán invitaba a ésta y a las nuevas generaciones “a perseguir un Big-Bang en lugar de un boom o un crack. Un cataclismo cósmico definitorio y definitivo: que se dispersen las estrellas, que cada una se vaya para su lado. Hay tanto espacio en el espacio. Y, así, el espacio como una página en negro, llena de luces”. A brillar entonces. >MBFI
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Barack Obama (2006)
Cornel West (1997)
Maya Angelou (1986)
Toni Morrison (1986)
A Writer’s Journey by Tananarive Due
Who knew a Jewish bookseller would introduce me to inspirational black writers? When I catalogue the peak experiences in my life, the Miami Book Fair International has brought me more than its share: Singing “Proud Mary” on stage with the likes of Warren Zevon, Stephen King, Amy Tan and Dave Barry to back me up. Appearing beside the late, great Octavia E. Butler. Talks with high school and college students about how to grab their dreams. Now, as a parent, the chance to help my four-and-ahalf-year-old son discover the joy of books.
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Octavia Butler (2005)
Walter Mosley (1996)
“It’s hard to count the number of times I wished I didn’t have my own panel or reading because it meant missing an author I wanted to see. Toni Morrison. Cornel West. Walter Mosley. Barack Obama. There have been too many to count.”
The list goes on and on. For me, the Miami Book Fair began with Mitchell Kaplan himself. When I was a tenth-grader at Miami Southridge High School, I walked into my English class to discover a 25year-old, relatively long-haired, effortlessly “hip” new teacher named Mitchell Kaplan — and he was my favorite from day one. Rather than taking the boring textbook approach to his lessons, Mr. Kaplan gave us esoteric exercises like gazing at a picture he drew on the chalkboard and writing about what the image made us feel. The day John Lennon was murdered, he played “Imagine” for us in the classroom and tried to give social context to a new generation — no easy feat. I so trusted his judgment that I gave him about 200 pages of a handwritten novel to read for his feedback. (He found one of my characters “too mean,” but he READ every word!) I remember when Mitchell was literally putting up bookshelves on his weekends in pursuit of his dream to own a bookstore. The rest is history. Books & Books is a Miami institution, and the Miami Book Fair, under Mitchell’s guiding hand, has grown into a literary phenomenon unlike any other in the nation. Any time I try to explain to newcomers what to expect from the Miami Book Fair, all I can say is, “It’s…er…uh…You have to SEE IT!”
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The Miami Book Fair defies easy description. I was especially excited when, fresh after studying African writers at the University of Leeds in England, I was able to help plan a panel featuring Kenyan author Ngugi wa Thiong’o and South African poet Dennis Brutus. There was an element of magic to imagining a literary conversation and then watching it come to life before my eyes. To help bring African writers to my home community! Soon enough, I would be an author myself — and the Miami Book Fair has been beside me at every step. As if it wasn’t thrilling enough that Mitchell dedicated an ENTIRE window at Books & Books to my first published novel, The Between, I was invited to participate in a panel to talk about my novel at the Miami Book Fair in 1995. After participating as a reader for so long, it was mindblowing to sit and field questions as an author. My first-ever reading was at Books & Books, but I reached yet another milestone when I became a Book Fair author. All I can say now is what I said then: Wow. I was lucky to enter publishing when I did. If I had tried to market supernatural suspense novels featuring black characters even five years earlier, I’m convinced I would have hit a brick wall. What made the difference? Terry McMillan published Waiting to Exhale — and demonstrated that black readers would buy commercial fiction. I like to say that I rode into publishing on McMillan’s long skirt. (McMillan, of course, has visited the Book Fair often, and I introduced her when she made an appearance at Books & Books in 1996.) And I am not alone: There was a wave of black authors who benefited from McMillan’s success, and still do — many of whom have also appeared at the Book Fair over the years. Each time I attend the fair, I wear two hats: My “author” hat and my “reader” hat. It’s hard to count the number of times I wished I didn’t have my own panel or reading because it meant missing an author I wanted to see. Toni Morrison. Cornel West. Walter Mosley. Barack Obama. There have been too many to count. And 1997 was special in ways I remain grateful for to this day. That year marked the publication of my second novel, My Soul to Keep. It’s also the year I met my current husband, Steven Barnes, at a conference on black speculative fiction at Clark Atlanta University. At that same conference, I met science fiction titan Octavia E. Butler. My experience at Clark was so meaningful — life-changing, actually — that I wanted to help recreate it at the Miami Book Fair. With the ever-present dedication of fair planners like Janell Walden Agyeman, we
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created a black speculative fiction panel with me, Steve, Octavia and Samuel R. Delany. Like the African writers’ panel, it afforded local readers a glimpse into a rarefied genre right in our own back yard. There were only a handful of panels like it anywhere in the nation. After Butler’s untimely death in 2004, a photo from that panel at the Miami Book Fair is now posted on my website at www. tananarivedue.com, as a precious time capsule. Steven Barnes would soon become my husband — and Octavia E. Butler remains, to us, a shining star. The year 1997 also brought me another unforgettable moment. Through all of the gifts that the Book Fair has bestowed — the lessons on craft, story and the writer’s life — I have to confess that the rock star in me has gained just as much. I’m talking about the Rock Bottom Remainders, of course! After my first book was published, I ran into humorist Dave Barry in the cafeteria of the Miami Herald building, where we both worked at the time. I told Dave how excited I was about the upcoming Rock Bottom Remainders concert, and how I — a fledgling keyboardist—could only dream of one day performing with the group. Dave thought for a moment and said, “Well…Mitch Albom, our keyboardist, will be doing vocals for ‘Jailhouse Rock.’ Can you do keyboards for the Elvis number?” “Sure!” I said. (“What?!” I was thinking. In that moment, I was so stunned that I couldn’t have hummed a single bar at gunpoint.) I rushed right out to get an Elvis songbook to prepare for my big debut…and I had a blast! Since that time, I have performed with the Rock Bottom Remainders at least a half-dozen times, most often in Miami, and mostly as a backup singer — although I’m happy just to be a “band chick” swaying to the beat. Whatever the capacity, I always have a great time. My high point was when Kathi Kamen Goldmark, who founded the Remainders, invited me to sing Tina Turner’s version of “Proud Mary” with the Remainders live at Bayside. (Later, on the CD “Stranger Than Fiction” produced by Goldmark’s Don’t Quit Your Day Job Records, my voice appears with the late, great Warren Zevon singing Ike Turner’s part.)
Tananarive Due is the American Book Award-winning author of nine books, ranging from supernatural thrillers to a mystery to a civil rights memoir. Her newest novel, Blood Colony, is the long-awaited sequel to her 2001 thriller The Living Blood and 1997’s My Soul to Keep, a reader favorite that Stephen King said “bears favorable comparison to Interview with the Vampire.” Due also collaborates with her husband, novelist and screenwriter Steven Barnes. They recently sold their screenplay adaptation of her novel The Good House to Fox Searchlight studios. In the summer of 2007, Due and Barnes published their first mystery, Casanegra: A Tennyson Hardwick Novel, which they wrote in collaboration with actor Blair Underwood. The series will continue with In the Night of the Heat, scheduled for publication later this year. Due, who teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Antioch University Los Angeles, is a former feature writer and columnist for the Miami Herald.
Maybe you have to be a closet rocker to understand. Thank you, Miami Book Fair. Without you, my life would not have been the same. >MBFI A Premier Program of the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at Miami Dade College | 47
The only problem we writers have is that it is often difficult to write fiction in a city stranger than anything in our vivid imaginations.
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MIAMI NOIR by Edna Buchanan
Three things learned being a mystery writer in Miami: Learn to use a gun. Never miss a chance to pee. And for inspiration, just take a look outside your door. Any place that ignites a writerâ€™s passion is a brilliant setting for a mystery novel. Miami has it all: smuggling, money laundering, gunrunning, the mafia, mass murder, deposed dictators, foreign fugitives, illegal aliens, bombs, terrorists, spies, street people, bizarre sects, animal sacrifice, grave robbers, voodoo, bizarre sex, serial killers, riches, utter poverty, corrupt politics, exotic diseases, racial tensions, refugees and riots. We also have the Miami Book Fair International, celebrating its landmark 25th anniversary. Itâ€™s no surprise that as Miamiâ€™s Book Fair grew in stature, reputation and
success, the city replaced Los Angeles as the boom town of mysteries in the tradition of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett. Miami is a fine place for mystery writers. And we all love the Book Fair, and it loves us back, inviting many of us to take part each year, along with four hundred or so other writers from around the world. From the late Charles Willeford (Miami Blues), the godfather of us all, Miami has spawned mystery writers ranging from lawyers, such as Paul Levine (Jake Lassiter series) and James Grippando (Jack Swyteck series), to reporters such as
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COURTESY BANTAM DELL
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The Miami River: favorite site of all that is dark and devious.
Carl Hiaasen (Tourist Season, et al.) and yours truly, to cops and private detectives such as Carolina Garcia-Aguilera (Lupe Solano series), and college professors like Les Standiford (John Deal series) – all who plumb the city’s gritty underside for their hard-edged contemporary fiction portraying postcard perfect Miami as a seductive beauty with hidden demons. Leaving this city is like leaving a lover at the height of the romance. I don’t want to miss a thing. But authors, they say, must introduce their books to the world. I asked my friend, Charles Willeford, what I should know about the book tour. He did not hesitate. “Never miss a chance to take a piss.” Men, I thought, frowning impatiently. Why must they always be crude? Soon after, departing a Pittsburgh radio during the book tour, I told the publicist who had me in tow that I intended to stop at the rest room before leaving. “No way,” she said firmly, pushing me aboard an elevator. “We’re behind schedule now.”
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Charlie was right. Another radio and one TV show later, my keeper consulted her schedule. “You can go now,” she announced, “but make it fast.” Authors on a book tour are like prisoners of war, with better accommodations. Snowstorms made my flight to Minneapolis five hours late. The waiting publicist, impatient at my delayed arrival, drove us at ninety miles an hour at one a.m. in her tiny car over icy roads through snow and sleet. No food seemed available at that hour in Minneapolis, and though the bellman claimed he turned on the heat in my room, it never worked. I piled all my clothes on the bed and huddled miserably beneath them. Exhausted, but too cold to sleep, I thought I was freezing to death. My only goal was to survive long enough to escape. The publicist arrived at dawn. Her first question was, “How can you live in Miami?” How? My toothpaste was frozen, it was too cold to take a shower, and she wondered how I could live in Miami. Little wonder that coming home brought tears to my eyes at the sight of soft pink and gray mists rising over the great swamp as we swept in over the Everglades.
COURTESY POISONED PEN PRESS
COURTESY HARPER COLLINS
JAMES GRIPPANDO All of those places in book tour land are black-and-white and pale by comparison to Miami’s vibrantly surreal movie tones. The only problem we writers have is that it is often difficult to write fiction in a city stranger than anything in our vivid imaginations. The temperature soars, the barometer drops, the full moon rises like a dusky silver dollar -- and all hell breaks loose, mayhem, mutilation and madness in graphic clarity. Sometimes I think that Florida, this lush gun-shaped peninsula, is the Twilight Zone. And that Rod Serling is Miami’s mayor. Fact or fiction? Life imitating art? Or art imitating life? In Miami, all that glitters isn’t gold. Beneath the glitz you will find moral rot, always a splendid dramatic device. Miamians are tough. We have to be, alone at the bottom of the map in a town full of thieves, liars, con men and killers caught up in a uneasy mix of international intrigue, religion and superstition. The whole damn state is a disaster theme park. We’ve survived epidemics, killer storms, floods, and the perfect storm that elevated us to number one – in homicide – as the Mariel boatlift, the cocaine wars, and the McDuffie riot converged. We’ve been through a lot and who knows what lies ahead as we teeter between drought and deluge, fires and floods.
As a character of mine once noted, “like a hurricane tracking chart, a gun is something you hope you will never have to use. But if you live in Miami, you can be damn well sure that you will need them both someday. It is a fact of life.” Everyone is intrigued by mysteries and crime. It touches us all. We are all fascinated by evil. We all yearn for resolution. Our system rarely provides it. Even if a crime is solved, even if there is an arrest and if – after court date after court date and deposition after deposition – there should be a conviction, it never really ends. No one can ever reach the last page.
A Miami writer’s best friend: plentiful and efficient, the Florida alligator’s indiscriminate diet includes both super models and hardened criminals.
Real life can be grim, unlike mystery fiction where writers can wrap up the loose ends, solve the mysteries and, best of all, write the last chapter, where the good guys win and the bad guys get what they deserve – so unlike real-life. What joy there is in reading and writing mysteries! More truth can be told in fiction than in real life. The writer can
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COURTESY random house
CAROLINA GARCIA-AGULERA address society’s problems, mirror the community, inform as well as entertain, expose wrongs and injustices and create characters who vent his or her own private outrage. Fictional authorities can be endowed with actual dedication, intelligence and common sense.
The Port of MIami: narcotics to weapons, welcome to the criminal mastermind’s supermarket.
The genre is an escape, a sanctuary, in an increasingly chaotic world. Readers assume the role of detective, sharpening deductive skills, and honing their talents for problem and puzzle solving. Mystery aficionados love logic and seeing the strands spun out of an original premise weave together satisfyingly at the end. The writer has even more fun. We provide the only world in which our readers are certain to find swift and sure justice – or any real justice. We all need endings and it is a joy, as novelists, to be able to give them to readers, and to ourselves. Who says there’s no justice? I knew I was a writer when I was four years old. The puzzles that always attracted me were missing people never found, why no one seems to miss the unidentified bodies in the morgue, and what really happened to all those
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SCAT > Carl Hiaasen Available 1/29/2009
CARL HIAASEN victims of unsolved murders? Writing fiction is what I am supposed to be doing. It validates my life. Miami’s Book Fair International has been a major annual event in my life for 24 years, just as Miami is always a main character in my work. I knew I was a writer, but it takes more than that. Born in Paterson, New Jersey, I grew up like a displaced person, without prospects. But the moment I arrived here, the hotblooded pulse of this city ignited a spark and the words began to flow like a river. What better place to be a writer? Stories swarm around us, in the sea and the wind, in our DNA, in our cellular memories. Decades ago a national magazine article described Miami as paradise lost. The writer asserted that violence had somehow spoiled this wonderful playground. Wrong. What was to spoil? Miami is just being itself, repeating history, over and over. The rum runners in fast boats pursued up the Miami River by federal agents became the drug runners in fast boats pursued up the Miami River by federal agents... Or take jail overcrowding, a chronic problem. An early police chief was accused of controlling the situation
COURTESY SIMON & SCHUSTER
EDNA BUCHANAN photo jim varga
by leaving the jailhouse door ajar and waiting outside in the bushes, with a double barreled shotgun. Acquitted by a Miami jury, he won back his job. Too many guns on the street these days? An Italian anarchist once bought a pistol in downtown Miami and tried to assassinate FDR in Bayfront Park. A feisty housewife lunged at the gunman’s arm, spoiled his aim, and the shots went wild. One fatally wounded Chicago’s mayor. We have always had political scandals and leaders who lie. They are our legacy. Miami has always been the last stop for sun seeking drifters and people on the run. And, of course, they bring their troubles with them, all their blues, baggage, and private demons. They always have, always will. Strolling Lincoln Road, mingling with the tourists, are foreign fugitives, schemers and dreamers, con men and visionaries, heroes and villains, some of them familiar faces on America’s Most Wanted.
The Super Rich: From Versace’s murder to the never-solved murder of Don Aronow, death always seem to befall the rich and powerful.
Edna Buchanan is a Pulitzer-prize winning, former Miami Herald police reporter and the author of seventeen novels and numerous short stories. Winner of the prestigious George Polk Career Award and twice nominated for an Edgar Award, Buchanan is best known for her popular crime series starring Britt Montero, a half-Cuban, all-cynical Miami crime reporter. Her most recent book is Legally Dead: A Novel, the first book in a new series that introduces Michael Venturi, a tough-talking ex-U.S. Marshall and special operative in the Marines who is on the trail of a child killer. Buchanan lives in Miami.
Paradise has always had its dark side. That’s why we love it. >MBFI
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by Sue Corbett
IS A STAR courtesy
(or how the children’s author became a celebrity.)
Boxcar Children was originally created by American writer and first grade school teacher, Gertrude Chandler Warner in 1942. Today, the popular children’s book series includes over 100 titles.
On Saturday mornings when I was a kid, my sister and I got dropped off at the South Farmingdale branch of our public library, where I made a beeline for the Ws, at the far reaches of the children’s reading room. Each week, hope fluttered in my Voracious Reader’s heart that there, on the bottom row of the last stack below the big windows, wedged between Walsh and Wilder, I would find a new episode in my favorite series, The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner.
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COURTESY Penguin Young Readers Group
Lloyd Chudley Alexander, who passed away in 2007 wrote more than 40 books. His fantasy novels are hugely popular with children and young adolescents. He was also one of the creators of children’s literary magazine Cricket.
Jan Brett is one of the nation’s foremost author illustrator of children’s books. In 2008 her “Gingerbread Friends” bus toured the US visiting bookstores from Washington DC to Oshkosh Wisconsin.
Alas, by about the third grade, my wishes went unmet week after week. By then I had read, and re-read, every installment my library ever intended to shelve. Much later I realized that, at the time I was reading her books, Mrs. Warner was well into her ninth decade on Earth, presumably retired from writing. Sigh. But I wonder now: From where did this fervent desire for a new book spring? It wasn’t like I knew anything about writers or publishing or how book production worked. In my Long Island neighborhood, we had accountants, plumbers, teachers, dads amorphously designated as “businessmen,” but no writers. No one suggested writing was a career – and here’s the big difference between then and now – no one EVER came to career day proclaiming the virtues of The Writing Life. School visits
by authors, longtime publishing executive Mimi Kayden told me, didn’t really take off until the late 1970s, when I was in high school. “Lloyd Alexander told me one of the first school visits he ever did he was greeted by the principal who said, ‘I thought you were dead,’” Kayden recalled. (Alexander reportedly replied: “Give me a little time.”) This resonates with me. I had authors on a pedestal equivalent to Greek gods. I’d have been just as floored to see Gertrude Chandler Warner in my school auditorium as to find Zeus in the cafeteria autographing thunderbolts. Flash forward to a contemporary child’s experience. They are much savvier about how books come into the world. The most popular books – usually numbers two and three in the hot trilogy of the moment – become bestsellers months, even years, before they are released. (Occasionally, before they are actually written! All you need
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COURTESY OF SCHOLASTIC
Artemis Fowl is a series of fantasy novels written by Irish author Eoin Colfer. The central character is a teenage criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl II. There are six novels in the series.
10th anniversary edition of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The book was originally titled Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
is a title to act as a placeholder for a preorder sale these days.) If not exactly on a first-name basis with their favorite author, kids know reams of personal information about them from Web sites, chat boards, and blogs. Podcasts bring creators to their audience.
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Jan Brett travels the countryside with artwork from her latest picture book painted on a bus the size of a barn. Eoin Colfer promoted the latest volume in his best-selling Artemis Fowl series with a multi-media, one-man show that played in concert halls and velvet-curtained theaters. How did we get from the assumption that most writers are, if not dead then certainly closeted in some garret scribbling away, to the expectation that books should come with a personal inscription?
JK Rowling’s Harry Potter is by far the most successful book franchise in history. As of June 2008, the seven book series has sold more than 400 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 67 languages.
Well, I think you have to start with book fairs. Book fairs and school visits, orchestrated by booksellers or educators who understood the powerful alchemy that can occur when you mix writers and readers in the correct combination, humanized the Author and, in so doing, made our connection to him or her far deeper.
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Authors have, of course, been touring since Dickens, who came to America in 1842 and wrote home complaining about mobs: “I can do nothing that I want to do, go nowhere
where I want to go, and see nothing that I want to see. If I turn into the street, I am followed by a multitude.” (Meg Cabot and Judy Blume probably have the same problem in Key West these days.) Mark Twain, destitute, took to the lecture circuit to promote his then unsold book about his travels in Hawaii (known in his day as the Sandwich Islands.) Instead of promising the curtain would rise at a certain time, the posters advertising Twain’s appearances read: “The trouble to begin at 8 o’clock.” Precisely the wording that should accompany publicity for any event which includes Dave Barry!
But, with few exceptions, people who write for children did not tour in the 19th or most of the 20th Century. School visits became popular, in part, because of the “captive audience” nature of them. With more women in the workforce than ever before, and kids’ schedules full to brimming with extra-curricular activities, a late-afternoon or early evening bookstore appearance is a non-starter for all but the highest profile authors. That was the situation anyway until: Harry Potter. The success of J.K. Rowling’s series literally reshaped the landscape of children’s publishing, lifting its profile to neverbefore heights, and unleashing a tsunami of interest that carried a lot of celebrities and big-name authors into what had been
children COURtesy hyperion
Published between 2003 and 2005, the Bartimaeus trilogy is a fantasy series by English born writer Jonathan Stroud.
a pretty quiet field. The response was so overwhelming, in fact, that although Rowling loved touring, she had to stop after the first three books because the average bookstore simply couldn’t handle the sheer numbers of fans. Her solution in later book releases were appearances at large venues, such as Carnegie Hall in New York. But her phenomenal success opened people’s eyes about demand. Say what you want about children spending too much time in front of the television/computer/video game console. The truth is that kids’ books have never been a hotter commodity. As children’s books became the most fashionable genre in publishing, opportunities for writers to appear at fairs and schools and bookstores flourished. Kids responded not with a ho-hum, what’s new attitude, but with enthusiasm so real that Janas Byrd, head of the Language Arts department at G.W. Carver Middle knew a scheduled visit by Jonathan Stroud, a littleknown English author of three books about a centuries-old genie, would cause a mini British invasion at her Coral Gables school. “He will be treated like a rock star here,” she predicted. He was. Is it just shrewd marketing? I don’t think so. As a writer, I get as much or more from the kids I meet at public appearances than they get from me. Writing for kids and talking to them about it has helped me distill not only what I do but why. I thought I was in this to tell funny stories. Instead, what I can
honestly share with kids is that reading is the key to everything else they will do and accomplish in their lives. Writing is so useful a tool that to forego mastery of it is about as risky as becoming a carpenter who refuses to use a hammer. Writing, at its most elemental, is thinking. Stories are they way we learn about each other and the world, how we practice being scared, how we process the unthinkable, how we nurture our imagination and our empathy. When a child finds one she loves, it’s totally understandable that she might, through force of her own will, try to wish another like it into existence. I regret never having thought to tell Mrs. Warner how much I loved her stories about the Alden kids; how I imagined myself as Violet some days, and Jessie, others. How I hoped against hope I had a rich grandfather in the wings somewhere who would swoop in and pay for the ice-skating lessons I wanted but my parents could not afford. Books outlive their authors, but whenever I get the chance to actually meet a person who’s created a world I loved spending time in, I take it. >MBFI
Sue Corbett began her journalism career at television stations in Missouri, South Carolina, and Florida, before becoming a writer at the Miami Herald. Since 1996, she’s been the Herald’s children’s book reviewer. She is also a regular contributor to Publishers Weekly and People magazines. Her first novel for young readers, 12 Again, was an International Reading Association Honor book and won the 2006 California Young Readers Medal. Her second novel, Free Baseball, is a 2006 Junior Library Guild selection and is a finalist for the Virginia Reader’s Choice award, Maryland’s Black-Eyed Susan Award, and the Rhode I s l a n d C h i l d r e n ’s Book Award.
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Spanish Written by Daina Chaviano
Chinese Translated by Huichen Chiang
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English Translated by Andrea Labinger
German Translated by Silke Kleemann
Translation By Daína Chaviano (Translated by Juan Carlos Pérez-Duthie)
O n e a u t h o r ’ s j o u r n e y t o g iv e c u lt u r a l c o n t e x t u n iv e rs a l m e a n i n g
FRENCH Translated by Caroline Lepage
GREEK Translated by Crisa Bania
JAPANESE Translated by Takako Shirakawa
Portuguese/Brazilian Translated by Maria Alzira
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or many writers, their job is done when they hand in their book to an agent or a publishing house. Even most authors who are about to be translated are not concerned about the fate of their texts. That is not my case. I imagine the anguish one must feel when looking for a word or a concept that does not appear in any dictionary and for which there is no reference. When that happens, the translator has no other choice but to make up or interpret the text his way. Personally, I don’t like that to happen to my novels. I can spend weeks trying to decide what to do with an adjective or a comma, and in no way do I want that effort to be wasted. I always try to collaborate with my translators, but it has been difficult because publishing houses are not used to having a writer getting involved in the translation of his or her own book. Some years ago, when my novel El hombre, la hembra y el hambre was translated into the Czech language, I tried in every way to get in touch with the translator. It is a novel that is filled with specific cultural references, impossible to understand if one is not Cuban. I was never able to communicate with her. The result was that, when the Czech edition came into my hands, I quickly discovered the translation had problems.
The first word I found in the first paragraph was “kamaráde” (comrade, associate). In Spanish, the novel began with the word “compadre” (buddy, dude). The translation of this simple word changed, from the beginning, the relationship between the two masculine protagonists. If the translator had been in touch with me, I would have been able to explain to her the word’s meaning, which she most likely was not able to find in any Spanish-Czech dictionary. The German translation of that same novel was almost left in the hands of fate. A week before the translator was due to hand it in, she was given my e-mail address. She sent me a list of questions, but she made it clear that these were not all. I answered them at once, but I suspect that a lot of gaps remained in her translation. From then on, I asked my agent to include a clause in the contracts, requesting that I be put in touch with the translator. But I always have to remind the editors of this clause, since they seem to skip it. In the case of La isla de los amores infinitos, my collaboration with the translators has been a months-long affair, almost as if I had been writing another novel. As I write these lines, the novel has been translated into 23 languages. The contracts for the first 16 languages came like in a series, one after another, throughout a three-month period. I realized that my life was going
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to become insane. How would I be able to answer the questions that would be sent by so many translators? That’s when I came up with the idea of preparing a general document that would be of use to all of them. I had to put together a list of words, phrases and concepts that they would obviously not be able to find in the dictionaries. Some things were very difficult to explain with words. But since I would be sending the documents by email, it occurred to me to use images, and thus I utilized Google. I also included many links to Wikipedia, which was especially useful for subjects related to flora and fauna. Usually, I searched for the name of the tree or the plant in Spanish. On the left-hand side of any Wikipedia page, however, there’s always a list of the languages in which one can find the translation of a particular term. That’s how I solved the problem. I would simply put the pertaining link to the Wikipedia page in Spanish and, from that page, each translator could then look in his or her own language. If a page in a translator’s language did not exist, it would generally be available in English (a language most of them handle) or in another one known to them, since translators usually know more than one language. There hasn’t been a single translator who has not benefited from this system.
When sending these documents I have always made it clear to the translators that if they have any doubts, they should consult me. They all have had their own questions, generally few, but interesting. The Swedish translator, for example, wanted to know if a grandmother I had mentioned was on the mother’s side or on the father’s. In Swedish, two different words meaning “grandmother” are used, according to whether she is from a maternal or a paternal line of the family. With the Japanese translator, I learned that there are three ways of writing in Japanese: kanji, hiragana and katakana. Foreign names are always used in the katakana fashion. That’s how I found out that my name would appear in the katakana way on the Japanese edition’s book cover. The Hebrew translator needed to be sure if, at a moment when I referred to the “partner” of a woman, I was referring to a same-sex partner or not because, as she explained to me, in Hebrew it is necessary to be specific about that. Had I not been available to answer that question, she would’ve altered the original meaning. With Huichen, my Chinese translator, the problem was the transcription of the Cantonese words that I had used in the novel. The Chinese who speak the language pronounce the
same characters in different ways, depending on the region in which they live. The problem is compounded when two languages like Mandarin and Cantonese confront each other. Luckily, I had the help of a CubanChinese friend, a descendant of Cantonese speakers, who had been my advisor on the Chinese part of the novel and who helped me explain to Huichen (who translated into complex Chinese) that the transcription of those words in Cantonese spoken by Cuban-Chinese was correct.
Daína Chaviano was born in Havana (Cuba) and has lived in Miami since 1991. In her native country, she published several science fiction and fantasy books, becoming the most renowned and best-selling author in those genres in Cuban literature. She has been equally successful as a writer of fantasy/SF and in mainstream literature, winning various awards in both fields.
For her part, the German translator was very impressed with these documents and with my way of organizing them (which, coming from a German, I took as a great compliment). She was so enthusiastic with my method that she asked me to support a campaign that her country’s Union of Literary Translators was carrying out. For the most part, it has been an interesting process, although I confess, somewhat crazy. To participate in the translation of my own work into languages whose alphabets I cannot even read is not precisely the experience I was looking for as an author. But I hope that the results benefit the readers who, definitely, are the objective of any act of literary creation. And translating, no doubt, is one. >MBFI
Her most recent novel, The Island of Eternal Love has been translated to 23 languages, becoming the most translated Cuban novel of all time. This work, originally published in Spain, was awarded the Gold Medal in the category of Best Spanish Language Book during the Florida Book Awards 2006. The English version (June 2008, Riverhead Books-Penguin Group) will be presented at the 25th Miami Book Fair International.
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64 | Miami Book Fair International : 25th Anniversary: 1984-2008
TRADITIONS new visions MIAMI DADE COLLEGE
Performing Arts The passionate, elegant beats of jazz music and a multimedia dance extravaganza are all part of the 2008-2009 Cultura del Lobo Performing Arts Series, with a full spectrum of performances that explore Hispanic, Hawaiian and Middle Eastern culture and traditions. Visit www.mdc.edu/culture.
Literature Autumn in Miami means books at Miami Book Fair International, November 9-16, 2008. Brought to you by the Florida Center for the Literary Arts at MDC, this yearâ€™s schedule of workshops, lectures and readings features Gore Vidal, Joyce Carol Oates, Junot DĂaz, Nikki Giovanni, Art Spiegelman and other literary figures. Visit www.flcenterlitarts.com.
Visual Arts From up-and-coming talents to established masters such as Salvador DalĂ, Miami Dade Collegeâ€™s art galleries bring you the best from the art world in their 2008-2009 line-up, which highlights themes from environmental awareness to the place of politics in contemporary art and culture. E-mail email@example.com.
Theater Miami Dade Collegeâ€™s vast theatrical offerings can entertain you for an evening or engage you in a lifetime of creative expression. From student musicals and plays to Teatro Prometeo â€“ with the mission of preserving Hispanic culture through theater â€“ the theater scene at Miami Dade College has never been more enticing.
Film Join Miamiâ€™s year-round cultural force for film â€“ the Miami International Film Festival. Now in its 26th year, MIFF will offer 10 days of the best in international cinema, special events and parties from March 6-15, 2009. Visit www.miamifilmfestival.com.