By Vania Andre
This March, the annual Miami Book Fair is launching a series of events inspired by Edwidge Danticat’s “Brother, I’m Dying,” a novel that examines her family’s experience with immigration and life in a politically-troubled Haiti. The programs, which range from intimate conversations with journalists to movie screenings, are a part of The Big Read, a literary event sponsored by the National Endowment of the Arts to celebrate reading and Haiti.
Our goal this year is to bring “the many stories of Haiti and Haitian-Americans” and their experiences and “various perspectives on immigration” to the people of Miami, the Fair organizers said. The Big Read starts off with a Conversation with Jonathan Katz, the only full-time American news correspondent in Haiti after the deadly 2010 earthquake on Mar. 3, followed by a screening of Patricia Benoit’s Stones in the Sun on Mar. 12.
Haitian-American women writers are celebrated in the Mar. 18 event that explores their works through a panel discussion at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. Featured authors include, Rebecca N. Carmant, M.J. Fievre, Margaret Papillon, Mahalia Solages, Mireille Sylvain-David, Marie Ketsia Theodore-Pharel, Fabienne Josaphat and Cynthia Verna.
The complex life in Haiti amidst political turmoil and poverty is explored in a screening of Rachelle Salnave’s La Belle Vie: The Good Life, followed by a discussion with the filmmaker about overcoming the “psychological and spiritual tools of division and prejudice” in Haiti.
The Haitian immigration experience is further explored in the culminating event on Mar. 31 with Danticat in a conversation with Cheryl Little, the executive director of Americans for Immigrant Justice.
We hope that these programs “build bridges between communities and contribute to mutual understanding, respect and appreciation.”
The reading program will also include a photography exhibit by photojournalist Carl Juste, a bilingual theatre performance and an open mic and happy hour writing events.