Friend of the Month: Danielle Calleja

Native Miamian Danielle Calleja is an associate director of investor relations at Carlyle Aviation, providing support in fundraising and investor communications. She relocated to Paris for about a year to study 19th-century French literature in pursuit of her graduate degree before returning to the Magic City.

You’ve been going to Book Fair events for years – what’s the first one you can remember attending?

I think it was shortly after grad school and it was Andrew Solomon, who came to speak about his book Far from the Tree. I thought he was just brilliant and super interesting. He was a great voice in speaking about people with disabilities and differences. It was really cool to have the opportunity to see him here in Miami.

How did you first learn about Friends of the Fair?

Definitely through Lisa (Better); she was my strongest link to the Fair. The reason I love it so much is that after school, there are so few chances to connect to deeper, more meaningfully engaging events. I wanted to keep that part of my mind active, and Book Fair is one of the best and most consistently engaging resources that I’ve found in any city in the world. I’m super happy to have it.

How long have you been a Friend?

About five years.

Is there any one Book Fair experience that stands out for you?

I really love just going to the physical Fair and seeing all the different groups that come together, especially Miami-based authors. I think it’s so cool that they get to set up their own area and showcase what they’re working on. That’s something we don’t get to appreciate on a regular basis, so it’s such a nice platform to see. I also loved seeing Isabel Allende.

Do you read French-language books?


Tell me about one you recently read and enjoyed.

La carte postale by Anne Berest, which I just downloaded so I’m listening to it now. I like to do audio books because hearing French helps me keep up my comprehension.

Which childhood book do you go back to again and again, not necessarily to reread it, but something that remains very clear in your mind?

There is one that I remember specifically from when I was a young adult – it’s a memoir, and I guess I’m a big memoir reader, which I never really put together until this conversation – and it’s Zlata’s Diary, about a girl in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. It was one of the first books that took me out of my context and taught me about what somebody could be going through in an entirely different part of the world.

Do you Book Fair solo or with friends?

I typically go with my husband. Our shared reading and books interests are history and politics. We just went to the Eric Holder-Sam Koppelman event  and both of them were amazing.

If you could see anyone at Book Fair, who would that be?

I loved reading Educated by Tara Westover and would love to hear her speak about how she found a place for herself in a world she couldn’t even have imagined existed, much less being a part of.

What three books would have to be by your side if you were stranded on a deserted island?

First on my list is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, which would last me quite a while and give me a chance to mull over the thematics of 19th-century France; it’s also one of my favorite pieces of musical theater. I haven’t read it yet and I’d take advantage of the isolation of the island to give me a true chance to enjoy and absorb it. I would also take La Chartreuse de Parme by Stendhal. This novel was central to my master’s thesis – it’s a great romance story that would also give me a chance to pass the time by slipping into extended musings. Incidentally, one of the main characters reflects extensively on the inspirations granted by solitude and captivity, so I’d hope to adopt this perspective in my time lost on an island. Finally, I’d take A Promised Land by Barack Obama. It’s packed with his insights and incredible firsthand accounts of events that made history during my life as a student and young adult. I’d hope to further my understanding of everything that took place in recent history, as well as be reminded of the possibilities and promise that await me once I make my way back into society.


Interview by Elisa Chemayne Agostinho.

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