Miami Book Fair International kicks off its Street Fair this Friday

Literature takes to the streets at the Miami International Book Fair. Photo: Michael Strader Marko

The Miami Book Fair International already kicked off with some top notch author encounters (Tom Wolfe, Junot Diaz, Sandra Cisneros, to name but a few) but the event culminates this weekend with a three-day street party featuring an endless selection of what’s in for all manner of literary types.

The street fair, which starts on Friday, will inundate the roadways surrounding the Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus with more than 200 vendors, festive entertainment, children’s activities and food with author events going on throughout the weekend.

Saturday and Sunday catch mini performances at the MicroTeatro, located at the corner of NE Third Street and First Avenue, featuring bite size Spanish language theatrical shorts. The World Stage (Second Avenue and Third Street) will have a non-stop roster of dancers and singers, bands like Ozomatli, Locos Por Juana along with classical musicians and more.

Head over to the Children’s Alley for scientific fun at Mad Science Lab hosted by the Miami Science Museum, watch family favorites come to life on stage, learn what makes the body tick at Healthy Bodies, Happy Kids, take a break at the Target Reading Room & Mommy Lounge or let the kids go wild at The Rhythm Factory, where no instrument is too loud.

Make sure to map out a strategy so as to fit in every performance, author event, book signing or play that grabs your attention. The Book Fair website can help you make your own itinerary (see schedule here). You could even have a Pretty in Pink reunion if you plan it right – Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy will both be peddling their works on Sunday.

Other highlights for the weekend

Literary Death Match: The writers at this alcohol-fueled throwdown don’t duel with swords but with words. Cheer on Meg Haston, Leela Corman, Scott Hutchins and Derek Kirk Kim as they face off before literary judges Pam Druckerman, Etgar Keret and Will Tracy at 8-10 p.m. Friday at Bardot, 3456 N. Miami Ave. Come early between 6-8 p.m. for happy hour and a pop-up library, “Bookleggers: A Library On the Run” to trade, donate or buy a book. (Hint: first-timers always get a freebie.)

Dave Barry and the guys from The Onion: Saturday mornings come awfully early, but throw down some coffee and prepare to laugh as humorist Barry and Onion co-editors Seth Reiss and Will Tracy discuss all sorts of funny stuff possibly including why they couldn’t be funny later in the day. 10 a.m. Saturday, Chapman Conference Center.

Molly Ringwald and Andrew McCarthy: A “Pretty in Pink” twofer as Molly Ringwald talks about her novel-in-stories “When It Happens To You” and McCarthy discusses his nonfiction travel chronicle “The Longest Way Home.” They don’t appear together, and that’s just the way Duckie would want it. Ringwald appears 11 a.m. and McCarthy at 4 p.m. Sunday in the Chapman Conference Center.

Christopher Hitchens panel: The world has missed Hitch’s great and terrible voice since his death last year, but you can hear his BFF Martin Amis, his widow Carol Blue, publisher Cary Goldstein and moderator Robert Weil discuss Hitch’s last work “Mortality.” 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Chapman. Amis reads from his own novel, “Lionel Asbo: State of England” at 11 a.m. Saturday in the Auditorium.

Sweat Broadsheet Collection: A group of writers and visual artists met at Sweat Records in Miami way back in 2009 to consider ways they could work together. The result is a display of almost 50 broadsheets with the theme “sweat.” Hot. See the exhibit and check out “Lit Takes a Schvitz,” at 3:30 p.m. Saturday as writers and authors discuss the project. The exhibit runs through Dec. 21.

A portrait of a serial killer as a young man: Derf Backderf, who went to school with the notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, discusses his graphic memoir on “My Friend Dahmer” with Charlie Kochman, executive editor of Abrams ComicArts at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Centre Gallery. If the material is too dark for you, fear not: the fair has a full slate of graphic novel writers and artists including Chip Kidd and Ilan Stavans; see for a full schedule.

James Patterson:
Yeah, we know, you think of him as the guy who writes those creepy bestsellers that involve a psychopath and somebody tied up in the basement. But this time out he’s doing a presentation for the whole family. One of the bestselling authors of all time, Patterson appears at noon Sunday in Chapman. Free tickets required.

For kids, tweens and teens: The fair has revamped its program for younger readers, with six new interactive venues covering the topics of art, science, music, health, culture and — yay! — play. Two stages feature entertainment for children on Saturday and Sunday, with a schedule of events of Y/A authors including Andrew Smith, Mac Barnett, Laini Taylor, Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. See for schedule.