Miami Book Fair: A religious author and Carl Hiaasen

The theme of the night at Wednesday’s Miami Book Fair International was religion. At the first event, a speaker examined the historical truths about the life of Jesus; at the second, a raucous crowd worshipped a Florida icon.

Religious scholar Reza Aslan told the crowd his new book Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth (Random, $27) was not about Christianity but Judaism and reminded them of the few facts we know about the man: He was a Jew, he started a Jewish movement to establish a “kingdom of God” on Earth and he was put to death by the Roman government for creating that movement, which challenged the status quo.

“It’s actually enough,” he said, “because we know a lot about the era in which he lived.”

Aslan, who was born in Iran but emigrated with his parents to the United States in 1979 — a bad time to be Iranian: “I spent part of the early ‘80s pretending to be Mexican,” he joked — said he has always been intrigued by religion and spirituality. Also author of the book No god but God: The Origins, Evolutions, and Future of Islam, he said he wrote Zealot because he’s fascinated by Jesus the man (“besides my secret Muslim agenda to destroy Christianity,” he said wryly, referring to a now-famous Fox News interview that went a bit awry).

“You do not have to be a Christian to be a follower of Jesus,” he said, noting that as a poor, uneducated man, his subject managed an extraordinary feat divine or not. “The way to confront social injustice and the powers that be — that model is as resonant today as it was 2,000 years ago.”

Carl Hiaasen didn’t go that far back, but he did reminisce fondly about olden times (when the newspaper business was solvent), and Miami corruption (an ongoing process). He also talked about his latest book, Bad Monkey (Knopf, $26.95) to an audience eager and practically on the edges of their seats for his Only In Florida stories. “The hardest task you have as a novelist writing in Florida is staying ahead of the great curve of weirdness,” he said. Nothing is too strange for his home state: “George Zimmerman could get elected in this state. Anything is possible.”

On a serious note, when asked about the future of journalism, he said that he did worry about it.

“Once there are no reporters in the room, the thieves run wild.”

And yes — someone did ask him about the Miami Dolphins’ latest scandal. His reply was exactly what you were thinking: “Only in Miami.”

Read more Books stories from the Miami Herald

 <span class="cutline_leadin">STONE MATTRESS: </span>Nine Tales. Margaret Atwood. Nan A. Talese. Doubleday. 288 pages. $25.95.


    Past looms large in new stories from Margaret Atwood

    In Margaret Atwood’s new collection, the past looms large for aging protagonists, but sympathy and regret abound, too.

  • What are you reading now?

    “I just finished Claire DeWitt and The City of the Dead by Sara Gran, which I love, love, loved. It’s a mystery set in New Orleans shortly after the storm and solved by girl detective, Claire DeWitt, who applies her special method of detection which is pretty much based on yoga and Buddhism combined with the altered mind states of drugs, drink, dreams and growing up in Brooklyn.”

 <span class="cutline_leadin">WHAT STAYS IN VEGAS:</span> The World of Personal Data — Lifeblood of Big Business C — and the End of Privacy as We Know It. Adam Tanner. PublicAffairs. 316 pages. $27.99.


    ‘What Stays in Vegas’ examines data packaging and the end of privacy

    Journalist explains how data packaging makes American companies the biggest threat to privacy.

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