Guadalajara International Book Fair kicks off
FIL Guadalajara is one of the most-anticipated literary events in Latin America
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The 36th edition of the Guadalajara International Book Fair, the largest Spanish-language book fair in Latin America, kicked off on Saturday, Nov. 26 and will last until Dec. 4. It features nine days dedicated to the promotion of books and reading, after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year's edition was also in-person, but was a bit "dispirited," as Mexican writer Emiliano Monge observed for El País, because it was a smaller edition in almost every way: less readers, exhibitors, activities and guests. However, it was also a "hopeful" edition.
"The confirmation that the Latin American book ecosystem, which received almost no government support during the pandemic anywhere on the continent, had managed to resist and even grow in certain latitudes," Monge wrote.
One of the special features of the 36th edition is the presence of the Emirate of Sharjah and Arab culture as guests of honor at the most important event in the Spanish-language book world.
The Sharjah pavilion, located in the center of Expo Guadalajara, is a space full of books that encourages attendees to walk through its meandering design of different spaces to introduce them to Arab culture through book presentations and shows. It also presents a representative sample of the Arab publishing industry and its most relevant cultural spaces, such as the House of Wisdom, a bookstore and also an area for the sale of clothing and handicrafts, and the magic of calligraphy, where hundreds of people have had their names written in Arabic by the magic hands of the masters of the ancestral art.
Two Cervantes Prize winners will also be present: Mexico's Elena Poniatowska and Nicaragua's Sergio Ramírez; as well as Cuban novelist Leonardo Padura and Spain's Arturo Pérez Reverte, who will present their most recent books Personas decentes and Revolución, respectively.
The FIL is a "celebration of books," said its president, Raúl Padilla, at the opening ceremony. In his speech, of a markedly political nature, Padilla defended literature as a space for freedom.
"Those in power should be told not to fool themselves, their clothes do not exist, in reality they are naked. The book has been a great ally of democracy, because in essence books know no allegiance," he said.
Throughout this week, FIL Guadalajara will offer dozens of activities and talks, which can be followed in-person or via streaming from the fair's official website.
Among the most anticipated events is the FIL Prize for Literature in Romance Languages, awarded to Romanian author Mircea Cărtărescu, and the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, awarded this year to Daniela Tarazona for her novel Isla partida.
Another of the most outstanding events of the FIL is the presentation of the Ribera del Duero Award to Bolivian author Liliana Colanzi.
One of the most popular events of the past weekend was the presentation of the book Dulce y Meg, by the popular children's illustrator Toño Malpica. It's a book about the friendly bond between humans and dogs, published by Santillana.
Throughout the next nine days, FIL expects to receive around 800,000 people, organize more than 600 book presentations, 3,000 literary, academic and scientific activities to be held at the fairgrounds and in various municipalities in the state of Jalisco, in western Mexico.