Mariko Tamaki on This One Summer, Young Adult Writing, and Queer Lit

"I don't think Gossip Girl happens to any teenager I know," Mariko Tamaki laughs as we talk about the way a lot of young adult works don't exactly mirror reality. "I think the idea is to stay within a visible realm of experience."

Mariko Tamaki is coming down for the Miami Book Fair International this weekend to discuss This One Summer, her latest graphic novel made in partnership with her cousin, Jillian. The story focuses on a young woman named Rose and her summer friend Windy whose families have visited Awago Beach for most of their lives, and the events that unfold over this particular summer. She's joined on the Coming of Age on the Page panel by Michael Cho (Shoplifter) and Mimi Pond (Over Easy), and their discussion about these comics and the way young adults are depicted growing up will be moderated by comics editor, Joan Hilty.

See also: Miami Author Anjanette Delgado Talks Love, Heartbreak, and Little Havana

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Poet Warrior Brian Turner: "As a Nation, We Go Too Quickly To War"

Brian Turner's My Life as a Foreign Country is not your typical war memoir. As the title implies, there is something radically displaced about this soldier's story. In one moment, Turner imagines himself as a drone aircraft, "plying the darkness above my body, flying over my wife as she sleeps beside me." In another, Turner writes from the standpoint of the Iraqi man aiming a rocket at an American base.

"The majority of soldiers are aliens in a foreign land," Turner tells Cultist ahead of his Book Fair appearance on Sunday. "Then we come home and -- at least in my experience -- coming home was quite a strange experience. Nothing seemed the same.

"And it still does in a lot of ways," he says. "This is a vey wealthy country. It's a country that can wage multiple wars and not even pay much attention to them or talk about them. So it seems there is some bizarre psychic disconnect between the real world and the world I live in."

See also: Alfred López's José Martí Biography: "Fidel Didn't Invent the Martí Political Scam -- He Just Perfected It"

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Snapshots of the Swamp: Miami Book Fair's Pop-Up Lounge Welcomes Buika (Photos)

Buika and cajon player Ramón Porrina
The voice of Buika is a melodious blend of Africa, Spain, and the Mediterranean, with an amazing quaver more powerful than the Plava Laguna from the excellent action flick The Fifth Element.

Hailing from the island of Majorca, near Ibiza, she now calls Miami Beach home. And she has a new book of poetry out called "A Los Que Amaron a Mujeres Difíciles y Acabaron Por Soltarse" (To Those Who Love Difficult Women and End Up Letting Go)."

Last night she read and performed from the book at The Swamp, a pop up performing arts venue at the Miami Book Fair International.

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Alfred J López's José Martí Biography: "Fidel Didn't Invent the Martí Political Scam -- He Just Perfected It"

Courtesy of the author
Alfred J. López's new book, José Martí: A Revolutionary Life from University of Texas Press, is the first biography written about the polarizing Cuban revolutionary in over half a century and the first ever in English. For as academic a subject as Martí could be in the hands of a professor, López's historical narrative of the figure and his continued influence in the post-colonial Americas flows with the parabolic ease of exhaustive research.

A former professor at Florida International University, López currently instructs as professor of English and Comparative Literature at Purdue University. Though he was born in New York City to Cuban parents, López grew up in '70s Miami and has an irreverent, firsthand view of the Havana-Miami divide in pre- and post-Mariel South Florida.

Ahead of his panel at the Miami Book Fair International, "Alfred J. López on José Martí: A Revolutionary Life, Luis Martinez-Fernández on Revolutionary Cuba: A History and Alina García-Lapuerta on La Belle Créole: The Cuban Countess Who Captivated Havana, Madrid and Paris," we got the chance to have an in-depth discussion on Martí, his global status, and Cuban-American identity.

See also: The Sweat Broadsides at Miami Book Fair: "Like a Mini-Concert, but With Poem-Songs"

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Miami Author Anjanette Delgado Talks Love, Heartbreak, and Little Havana

Photo by Javier Romero, courtesy of Anjanette Delgado
Anjanette Delgado trails her right hand along the spines of books lining a shelf at Books & Books in Coral Gables, vigorously grabbing another paperback to add to the existing pile balanced in her left arm.

She makes her way to a small corner table in the bookstore's café and sits encased between a wooden wall and a self-made tower of books. Lining the coffee shop wall behind her is a collection of black-and-white photographs of authors who have spoken in the store in the past.

The author is not only content with her surroundings, she feels right at home.

See also: Morowa Yejidé on Autism and Motherhood: "There's a Language Between Parents"

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Book Fair's Weird Florida Panel to Talk Mermaids, Ghost Stories, and Exotic Animals

Photo by James Harvey
Florida's weirdness is hardly a secret. From's Florida section to the popularity of "Why is Florida so weird?" as a Google query, the world is on to our state's many oddities.

But there's more to the Sunshine State's quirky character than dudes with half a head and alligator whisperers. The Miami Book Fair International's Weird Florida panel is bringing together six authors this Saturday to delve into the details of our state's eccentricities.

See also: Book Fair's Literary Death Match Pits Florida Writers Against Each Other in Battle Royale

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Morowa Yejidé on Autism and Motherhood: "There's a Language Between Parents"

By Sarah Fillman
There's a universe behind our eyes, says prize-winning short story writer Morowa Yejidé. Her debut novel, Time of the Locust, observes the life and family of Sephiri, a young autistic boy whose mother struggles to support and understand him in the wake of losing her husband to the unforgiving confines of a penitentiary.

According to Yejidé, the meatiest stories take shape in the aftermath of action.

"We might hear about the situation of a particular person or choice that that person made, but that's not the end of the story," says Yejidé. "The other part of the story is the fallout."

See also: Seinfeld Writer Peter Mehlman on New Novel: "The Entire Book Was Inspired By Annoyance"

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Book Fair's Literary Death Match Pits Florida Writers Against Each Other in Battle Royale

Courtesy of Miami Book Fair International
LDM Miami 2012 at Bardot
In addition to the Mad Max, post-apocalyptic kind, death matches come in many flavors, including the bookish variety. And this year, the Miami Book Fair International's The Swamp lounge is hosting a Florida-themed Literary Death Match, featuring writers (and one judge) who hail from the Sunshine State.

So what is a LDM, exactly? Think of it as cage fight meets poetry slam, American Idol meets book club. Four local writers will read their most "electric" works in a series of rounds, followed by no-holds-barred commentary by judges. The action will culminate in an "anything goes," totally unpredictable finale.

See also: The Ten Best Things to Do at Miami Book Fair International

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Seinfeld Writer Peter Mehlman on New Novel: "The Entire Book Was Inspired By Annoyance"

Dana Patrick
Longtime Seinfeld writer and producer Peter Mehlman aims higher than laughter with his debut novel, as he examines racism, religion, tragedy -- and feet. A reflective social commentary, It Won't Always Be This Great is both comic and poignant. From beginning to end, the novel artfully cultivates a philosophy opposed to spending life in search of concrete answers.

"Why limit yourself?" he asks. Mehlman considers that if things don't make sense, maybe they're not supposed to.

For one Long Island podiatrist, it takes an impromptu act of vandalism just to make him aware of his own being. He stumbles on a bottle of horseradish and hurls it through the window of a popular teen fashion store. This one out-of-character impulse turns his life vivid and terrifying, triggering waves of fear, crooked cops, and suspicions of antisemitism, both accurate and paranoid.

See also: Ben Greenman on Questlove, George Clinton Memoirs: "When It Comes To These Books, You Have To Audition"

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Joyce Carol Oates on Twitter, Her Writing Process, and Lovely, Dark, Deep

Courtesy of Miami Book Fair International
John Updike described the career of Joyce Carol Oates better than anyone when he said, ". . . if the phrase 'woman of letters' existed, she would be . . . entitled to it." She's written novels, short story collections, nonfiction, novellas, plays, poetry, collections, children's and young adult books, and been awarded too many honors to mention.

An author, poet, avid Twitter user, and teacher, her work as a writer has spanned a remarkable five decades.

Oates will be reading from her latest collection of stories, Lovely, Dark, Deep, at the Miami Book Fair International on Thursday night, so we quizzed the legendary author via email about Twitter, her writing routine, and the details of her memoir.

See also: Six Ways to Geek Out at Miami Book Fair 2014

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