Miami Book Fair International

Miami’s book fair ‘Evening With…’ series ends on easy note


Street fair

When: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday

Where: Miami Dade College Wolfson campus, 300 NE Second Ave., downtown Miami

Cost: $8; $5 for 13-18 and over 62; 12 and under free


A bit of fiction and a bit of philosophy, both seasoned with a touch of the historical, rounded out the final night of Miami Book Fair International’s “Evenings With…” programs Friday.

Emma Donoghue read from her Astray, new book of short stories inspired by old newspaper accounts, and historian Alan Ryan talked about his weighty new two-volume work On Politics: A History of Political Thought: From Herodotus to the Present (told you it was weighty).

“I feel like I should say, ‘Hello, Miami!’ ” joked Donoghue when she took the stage. Earlier, the Canadian author expressed wonder at the fact she was swimming in the Biltmore pool on a November afternoon before her appearance. “I don’t usually stay in places like that,” she said, laughing.

But Donoghue, author of the novel Room, is no stranger to new experiences: She’s a two-time emigrant from Dublin, once from Ireland to England, then on to Ontario.

“The Irish are obsessed with immigration,” she told the audience. Even when the economy’s good there, she said, the Irish look to other countries. “It’s still a small island,” she joked. “A lot of us have felt the need to fly that particular coop.”

Fitting then, that Astray features characters on the verge of moving on or struggling in their new surroundings. Donoghue read the amusing story The Widow’s Cruse and fielded questions about Room, a harrowing novel about a little boy being raised in a tiny shed by his kidnapped mother. Disturbing to be sure. But in case you wonder, Donoghue has no pressing childhood traumas of her own to inspire her to such a dark premise.

“I grew up in Dublin in a bookish household,” she said. “I was allowed to read all the time. . . There’s something to be said for a happy childhood that leaves you feeling confident.”

Ryan, who was in conversation with Robert Weil, editor-in-chief of W.W. Norton’s Liveright & Co., talked about his comprehensive study of political philosophy. Or, as his daughter (a biology professor) describes his profession: “He does dead philosophers.”

Ryan did mention a few of those worthy gentleman — Plato, St. Augustine and John Stuart Mill, for example — but still managed to elicit a laugh when discussing Americans’ adoration of a Constitution they’ve never read and continually confuse with the Declaration of Independence.

“The Constitution is revered, and it is at least worth knowing,” he said.

The fair continues this weekend with a full schedule of authors Saturday and Sunday.

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category