November 2, 2011

African American Authors & Black Diaspora @ Miami Book Fair International 2011

African American Authors and the Black Diaspora to Make Huge Presence at Miami Dade College’s 28th Miami Book Fair International

Award-winning artist and activist Harry Belafonte will present and discuss his memoir My Song at the 28th Miami Book Fair International.

Miami, November 2, 2011 - The 28th edition of the Miami Book Fair International(MBFI), presented by Miami Dade College’s (MDC) The Center @ MDC, will kick-off on Sunday, Nov. 13 with live presentations by several of the country’s most celebrated contemporary authors in the black diaspora.

A few of the authors, though not of African descent, have written about the black experience in their work, such as Alan Cheuse and Peter Godwin. Others, including award-winning artist and activist Harry Belafonte, as well as noted hip hop historian Nelson George, are African American and have maintained a loyal fan base for many years. During the Fair, the authors will participate in book signings, readings, and one-on-one discussions. 

Here’s a list of this year’s featured authors of African American descent, as well as those whose work highlight black culture and interests:    

Harry Belafonte: One of several authors taking part in the Fair’s popular Evening With series, Belafonte will present and discuss his memoir My Song (Knopf, $30.50) at 6 pm.Tuesday, Nov. 15. In the book, Belafonte shares his poverty-ridden childhood, his rise to one of the world’s most popular singers, how he broke racial barriers, achieved equal popularity with white and black audiences, his lifelong involvement in the civil rights movement and countless other political and social causes. 

Alan Cheuse: Novelist, essayist, and short-story writer, Cheuse has been described as “The Voice of Books on NPR." His latest novel, Song of Slavesin the Desert (Sourcebooks Landmark, $25.99), is the story of one man’s struggle with the legacy of slavery and the loyalty of family. Beginning in Timbuktu in the 1500s, Cheuse traces the history of slavery to the American Civil War, and evokes life on a Jewish plantation in the 1800s. 

Nelson George: His noir novel, The Plot Against Hip Hop (Akashic, $15.95), is set in the world of hip hop culture. When the stabbing murder of an esteemed music critic is dismissed by the NYPD as a gang initiation, bodyguard/security expert D Hunter suspects there's much more to his death.  George is the author of Hip Hop America and The Death of Rhythm & Blues

Peter Godwin: In The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe (Little, Brown, $26.99), Godwin explores Robert Mugabe's isolated Zimbabwe. Returning to his native Zimbabwe in 2008, Godwin hoped to dance on Mugabe's political grave. But though Mugabe had been voted out as president, he did not concede power, instead sponsoring a brutal campaign of violence to crush his political opponents and suppress dissent.  "Godwin's skills as a journalist and his personal connection to Zimbabwe combine to create an astonishing piece of reportage," says Publishers Weekly. Godwin worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa and Eastern Europe for The Sunday Times of London, and contributes regularly to National Geographic, New York Times magazine, and BBC Radio. 

Helon Habila: Representing Nigeria, Habila's novel, Oil On Water (Norton, 14.95), is told through the eyes of a 25-year-old rookie reporter, who takes readers deep into the Niger Delta and into the furnace of a brutal war raging between government forces and indigenous rebels. Fiction blends with the real-life tragedy of one of the world's most overlooked environmental and humanitarian catastrophes. Habila is the author of Waiting for an Angel and Measuring Time

Jessica B.  Harris: In High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America (Bloomsbury, $26), acclaimed cookbook author, Harris, tells the story of the African diaspora through food, from the foodstuff brought along with African slaves to barely maintain them on the Middle Passage to the undeniable imprint of African American cuisine on southern American and Caribbean food. "Plenty to savor in Jessica B. Harris’s latest book," says Saveur Magazine. Harris is the author or more than 20 cookbooks on Southern, African, South American, and Caribbean cuisine.  

Marlon James: In the novel, The Book of Night Women (Riverhead, $26.95), James explores the ferociously cruel and dehumanizing practice of slavery in Jamaica. The book is narrated in a lilting Jamaican patois that at once underscores and eerily conflicts with the disturbing images of violence and degradation that James conjures. "Night Women will keep readers up at night," says Bookmarks magazine. 

Mat  Johnson: In his novel, Pym (Random House, $24.00), a professor of African American studies devises a mission to find the lost, black-inhabited island near Antarctica described in Poe's only novel. They discover that something else described in Poe's narrative is also real: giant, yeti-like, albino humanoids living in large colonies below the ice in Antarctica. "Funny, insightful...Pym is a death-defying adventure,” saysBooklist. Johnson is the author of the novels Drop and Hunting in Harlem, the nonfiction novella, The Great Negro Plot, and the graphic novels,Incognegro and Dark Rain. 

Tayari Jones: Set in a middle-class neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1980s, Jones' novel, Silver Sparrow (Algonquin, $19.95), explores family secrets and lies, revolving around James Witherspoon’s two families – the  public one and the secret one. When the daughters from each family meet and form a friendship, only one of them knows they are sisters. It is a relationship destined to explode when secrets are revealed and illusions shattered. “A graceful and shining work about finding the truth,” says Kirkus. 

Kadir Nelson: A presentation and discussion with award-winning author/illustrator Nelson on We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball (Hyperion Books for Children, $18.99), followed by a tour of an exhibit of Nelson’s paintings, will be held at 6:30 p.m.Monday, Nov. 14, at MDC’s Wolfson Campus, Auditorium, Building 1. Accompanied by Nelson's vibrant illustrations in a narrative tribute to the spirit of the Negro Leaguers, We Are The Ship is divided into nine innings, beginning with Rube Foster and his formation of the first Negro League in 1920 and closing with Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier into white major league baseball. Nelson is the also the author of Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. 

Elizabeth Nunez: Nunez's novel, Boundaries (Akashic, $22.95), is the story of Anna, the head of a specialized imprint at a major publishing house, who is challenged for her position by an ambitious upstart.  Accused of not understanding American culture, particularly African American culture, Anna turns for advice to her boyfriend, a Caribbean American, who attempts to convince her that immigrants must accept limitations on their freedom in America. Nunez is the award-winning author of seven novels, including Anna In-Between, a New York TimesEditors’ Choice.

Nell Irvin Painter: In The History of White People (Norton, $17.95), eminent historian Painter guides us through more than two thousand years of Western civilization, illuminating not only the invention of race but also the frequent praise of “whiteness” for economic, scientific, and political ends. Painter is the author of Sojourner Truth: A Life, A Symbol and several other scholarly works on the history of slavery and race relations in America. 

Randall Robinson: Makeda (Akashic, $15.95), a novel by Randall Robinson, takes place in 50s Richmond, Virginia. Makeda, a woman blind since birth, begins to confide in her grandson, Gray, the things she "sees" and remembers from her dream state. Gradually, Gray begins to make a connection between his grandmother's dreams and the epic life of an African queen described in the Bible. "Hypnotic," says Essencemagazine.  Robinson is an author and activist, noted as the founder of TransAfrica, an advocacy organization that seeks to influence the foreign policy of the United States concerning African countries and the African diaspora. 

Randall Kennedy:The Persistence of the Color Line:  Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency (Pantheon, $26.95), by Randall Kennedy is the first book by a major African-American public intellectual on racial politics and the Obama presidency. “A carefully calculated, sober discussion of why race will continue to haunt American politics,” says Kirkus Reviews. Kennedy is the Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He attended Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, and is a former clerk to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He is the author of four other books, including Race, Crime, and the Law 

Martha Southgate: Southgate’s new novel, The Taste of Salt (Algonquin, $13.95), captures the struggles of living with alcoholic family members. The Henderson family repeats a cycle of excessive drinking that is devastating and, in many ways, unavoidable. Southgate is also the author of the novels, Third Girl from the Left and The Fall of Rome

Touré: In Who's Afraid of Post-Blackness?: What It Means to Be Black Now (Free Press, $25.00), iconic commentator and journalist Touré tackles what it means to be black in America today. "Perceptively analyze[s] a new sensibility in black art and culture to illustrate the complex and fluid racial identification Touré dubs 'post-blackness,'" says the San Francisco Chronicle. Touré is a novelist, essayist, music journalist, cultural critic, and television personality. He is the host of Fuse's Hiphop Shop and On The Record. He is also a contributor to MSNBC's The Dylan Ratigan Show and serves on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. 

Deborah Willis:Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to Present (Norton, $35) draws on Willis's 10 years of research and photos from archives, galleries, photographers, friends, and family. The photographs, organized thematically, reach back to the 1890s and forward to the current first family. ". . . this is a dazzling eye-opener," says Publishers Weekly. Willis, a MacArthur Fellow, is professor and chair of the department of Photography and Imaging at New York University. 

Dr. Paul Farmer: A medical anthropologist and physician, Dr. Farmer has dedicated his life to treating some of the world’s poorest populations, in the process helping to raise the standard of health care in underdeveloped areas of the world.  He is a founding director of Partners In Health, an international charity organization that provides direct health care services and undertakes research and advocacy activities on behalf of those who are sick and living in poverty. In Haiti After the Earthquake (Public Affairs, $27.99), Dr. Farmer, who has worked in Haiti for nearly thirty years, describes the earthquake’s impact on that country, both as a physician in the days and weeks immediately after the event, and over the subsequent year, when he and his colleagues worked along with the UN to try to marshal international support for Haiti’s recovery efforts. President Bill Clinton says of the book, "Once you’ve seen Haiti through Paul Farmer’s eyes, you’ll never see Haitians or any of the world’s poorest people, quite the same way again."  Dr. Farmer is the Kolokotrones University Professor at Harvard University and Chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School. 

Cedella Marley: Written by Bob Marley's oldest child, Cedella, and adapted from one of  Marley’s most beloved songs, the illustrated children's book, One Love (Chronicle Books, $16.99), brings the joyful spirit and unforgettable lyrics of his music to life for a new generation. Cedella performs internationally with the three-time Grammy Award-winning Melody Makers. She is also the author of a number of books about her father, including 56 Thoughts from 56 Hope Road and Bob Marley: My Son. 

Geoffrey Philp: Philp's new children’s book, Marcus and the Amazons: A Story of Resistance (Mabrack Press) combines the values of Marcus Garvey and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. into the story of a courageous ant that saves his colony from an evil tyrant. Philp also contributed an afterword to I'm the One With the Blue Cap On (Rock Press, $15.00) a posthumous collection of Jeffrey Knapp's poems, edited by John Dufresne, with a Forward by Michael Hettich. Culled from typed manuscript pages going back to the sixties, the poems span the length of his career, showing the early influence of the Beats and his fondness for the visual arts and pop culture. Throughout the range of his poems, Knapps's voice reveals itself as consistently strong, energetic and uniquely his own. Philp is an award winning Jamaican poet and fiction writer. 

Colson Whitehead: Whitehead's novel, Zone One (Doubleday, $25.95) is a zombie-horror story, which also serves as a pop-culture, satirical send-up. Mark Spitz and his squad of three ‘sweepers’ move through Zone One of lower Manhattan, a walled-off enclave scheduled for resettlement in the aftermath of a zombie plague. "A fresh take on survival, grief, 9/11, AIDS . . . and the many other disasters . . . that keep a stranglehold on our fears,” says Publisher’s Weekly in its starred review. Whitehead, a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway award and Pulitzer Prize, is the author of the novels Sag Harbor, The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, and Apex Hides the Hurt. 

Isabel Wilkerson: The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration is Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Wilkerson's study of the "great migration," the exodus of six million black Southerners out of the terror of Jim Crow to an "uncertain existence" in the North and Midwest. ". . . magnificent, extensively researched . . .," says Publisher's Weekly in its starred review. Wilkerson won the Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times, making her the first black woman in the history of American journalism to win a Pulitzer Prize and the first African-American to win for individual reporting in the history of American journalism. 

Important facts about the 28th edition of the Miami Book Fair International: 

Unless otherwise noted: All Evening With presentations will be held in the Chapman Conference Center (Bldg. 3, second floor) at the Wolfson Campus, 300 N.E. Second Ave. Tickets for each session are $10 and must be purchased in advance. To purchase tickets,
Kick-off festivities will begin at 5 p.m. with the Miami Book Fair International Inaugural Ceremony in the Wolfson Campus Auditorium (Building 1, second floor). Immediately following the ceremony, the Chinese Pavilion will officially open its doors and host an opening reception. Both events are free and open to the public.  

The Fair will take place November 13 - 20, 2011, at the college’s Wolfson Campus in downtown Miami. Free parking is available in the Building 7 garage (500 N.E. Second Ave). The popular Street Fair runs Friday, November 18 through Sunday, November 20, featuring more than 200 exhibitors from around the country. This year, the Fair will celebrate the literature and culture of China. 

Plus, Twilight Tastings every weeknight – delicious morsels and drinks courtesy of popular Miami restaurants – and a wealth of activities, from folk dancing to calligraphy demos and more, at the Chinese Pavilion. 
For updates on Miami Book Fair International, please visit, call 305-237-3528, or email 

Miami Book Fair International is the largest and finest literary gathering in America. It is the premier event of The Center for Literature and Theatre @ Miami Dade College. The Center promotes reading and writing throughout the year by consistently presenting quality literary activities open to all in South Florida. Literacy projects target children of all ages — from kindergarten to high school — as well as college students and adults. Additionally, established and emerging writers from all over the U.S. read, lecture, and teach workshops. The Center is also the home of the Prometeo Theater, a Spanish-language conservatory style program that presents full productions and dramatic readings; in addition to offering a professional training program in theatre arts, continuing education acting classes for adults as well as Prometeitos, dancing and acting program for children. The Center envisions South Florida as a nexus of literary activity in the Americas and beyond, and will continue to champion its mission of promoting the advancement and appreciation of literature in all forms. 
Miami Book Fair International is made possible through the generous support of the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Recovery Act; Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners; The Children’s Trust, Peacock Foundation, Inc., Publix Super Markets Charities, Miami Dade County Public Schools; the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau; the Miami Downtown Development Authority, the Green Family Foundation, the Alvah H. and Wyline P. Chapman Family Foundation, Inc., the Kenneth A. Lattman Foundation, and the Friends of the Fair.  
The Book Fair’s corporate sponsors as of this date include: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, American Airlines, Bank of America, Miami Parking Authority, Miami Dade Transit, Mystery Writers of America, Southeastern Recycling, Cafeina Wynwood Lounge, City Hall the Restaurant, Graspa Group, Hyatt Regency Miami, Barefoot Wine, Florida Power & Light, First and First Southern Baking Company, Scholastic Books, South Motors, Jackson Health System, Kork Wine & Cheese, Tri-Rail, Costco Wholesale, and the Doral Chamber of Commerce. The 2011 media sponsors include:  The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald, Comcast, CBS4 and TV33, Univision23 and Telefutura69, BookTV on C-SPAN2, Univision Radio, WLRN Public Radio & Television, WPBT Channel 2, WDNA 88.9 FM Public Radio, Classical South Florida 89.7, WIOD Newsradio 610 AM, WEDR 99JAMZ, Diario Las Americas, Caribbean Today, Miami New Times, South Florida Times, The Miami Times,, FUEL Outdoors, and the Welcome Channel. 

Miami Dade College has a long and rich history of involvement in the cultural arts, providing South Florida with a vast array of artistic and literary offerings including the Miami Book Fair International, the Center @ MDC, the Miami International Film Festival, the MDC Live! Performing Arts Series, the Cuban Cinema Series, the Miami Leadership Roundtable speakers’ series, numerous renowned campus art galleries and theaters, and the nationally recognized School of Entertainment and Design Technology. With an enrollment of more than 174,000 students, MDC is the largest institution of higher education in the country and is a national model for many of its programs. The college’s eight campuses and outreach centers offer more than 300 distinct degree programs including baccalaureate, associate in arts and science degrees and numerous career training certificates leading to in-demand jobs. MDC has served nearly 2,000,000 students since it opened its doors in 1960. 

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