The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Talking with One of Florida's Most Literary Men

A view of the Miami Book Fair International. Photo courtesy of the Miami Book Fair International

This week, the literary world is buzzing with the announcement of the winners of the National Book Award. Among the awards are fiction (Jesmyn Ward, winner), nonfiction (Stephen Greenblatt, winner),  poetry (Nikki Finney, winner), and the honorary Literarian Award given for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community. This year, the National Book Foundation awarded this prize to Mitchell Kaplan. Kaplan is a South Florida literary institution: he's the owner of a series of independent bookstores called Books and Books, as well as the co-founder and chairperson of the board of directors of the Miami Book Fair International. The timing for Kaplan's award couldn't be better, as the week-long festival is currently underway.

Now in its 28th year, the book fair is not only the oldest and largest in the country, it's become a model for community book fairs across the nation. But as a former resident of South Florida myself, I knew that when the festival began, Miami was hardly the lively cultural center it's become. So I sat down with Kaplan to find out how he had the guts and the bright idea to begin a book festival in what was then a very sad downtown Miami.

The Miami Book Fair International runs from November 13 through November 20. With over 350 authors attending, it is action ?round the clock! Click here to see the featured events and programs.




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