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Miami Book Fair International

Topics include Haitian art, hip-hop culture and a personal memoir

D. Kevin McNeir | 11/14/2013, 9 a.m.
This year the Miami Book Fair International marks its 30th year and the buzz is already on about some of ...

This year the Miami Book Fair International marks its 30th year and the buzz is already on about some of the talented authors and spectacular activities that will be part of the eight-day event that begins on Sun., Nov. 17th on the campus of Miami Dade College, Wolfson Campus, 300 NE 2nd Avenue. Nationally-known authors include:

Congressman John Lewis, Walter Mosley, M.K. Asante, Albert “Prodigy” Johnson, Stanley Crouch, Nikki Giovanni, Dan Brown, Amy Tan and Erica Jong — and that’s just the short list. But Miami has its own folks to brag about.

Three local authors with books that are getting plenty of well-deserved attention are Preston Allen, D. Marvin Jones and Candice Russell.

Each author’s work speaks to issues of tantamount importance to Miami’s Black community and other Blacks across the U.S. and abroad.

Giants in the land

Allen, a professor of English at Miami Dade College since 1990, offers a satire in the mode of Jonathan Swift entitled “Every Boy Should Have a Man” as his fourth published book.

His thesis, he says, it that we need to clean up our society so that it is fair to all people and protect our planet before we lose it.

“The hero of the novel is a boy giant in a world where giants have men as pets and he brings one home the way we would bring home a stray dog,” Allen said. “I have always been fascinated by how we claim to believe one thing but then do just the opposite.

We preach brotherly love and then we hate, we say we love things or people but then we destroy and kill.

I hoped that like Swift in “Gulliver’s Travels,” I could write a story that satirizes human — we are the animals in this book and the giants are us. I hope to move readers towards greater sensitivity for animals and people who are minorities and oppressed. In the Everglades there are alligators and snakes that are fearer predators — but we are predators of all.”

The paradox of Black life in America

It took University of Miami Professor of Law D. Marvin Jones seven years to write “Fear of a Hip Hop Planet: America’s New Dilemma,” but according to recent reviews from Black scholars like Cornel West, Charles Ogletree and Michael Higgenbotham, Jones’s work will soon become a must-read for anyone concerned with race, equality and justice in the 21st century.

He says that as one who has studied law and race for over 20 years, he started out with the question, “has the color line in America faded?”

“When you look at our first Black president or the rise of athletes like Lebron James, one could say that the story of the Black race is one of progress,” he said. “That we have reached the mountaintop and overcome.

But then there’s the paradox where three-fifths of Black children grow up poor, 971,000 Black men are in prison/jail and where inner cities factories have closed resulting in incredible epidemics of joblessness. Somehow we have to reconcile these two seemingly contradictory realities.”