Preparations are gearing up for the return of the Feria Internacional del Libro de Buenos Aires (“The Buenos Aires International Book Fair”), with the largest Spanish-speaking book fair in the world planning to honour four decades of democracy in Argentina.
According to its organisers, the event will honour “40 years of vertigo, 40 years of questioning and finding answers, and 40 years of defending” democracy.
The Book Fair, which runs from April 27 to May 15, will be spread across 45,000 square metres, with 500 stands, 1500 exhibitors and 12 rooms, all prepared to welcome animated readers and writers into the city of books, also known as La Rural, Palermo.
Organised by Fundacion El Libro, this year’s incarnation will also feature literary creations and authors from Santiago de Chile, selected as this year’s guest city of honour.
“Forty years ago, the most terrible civic-military dictatorship came to an end. We left behind State terrorism, but we entered democracy with all the wounds and consequences of a deranged society and economy,” general coordinator Miguel Gaya announced.
“Nobody then would have dared to affirm that it would last for 40 years. But here we are. It may not have been a Swiss canton democracy, but it couldn’t have been more Argentine,” Gaya continued.
In honour of four decades of uninterrupted democracy, Gaya has called experts across generations and disciplines to reflect on the landmark in a series of seven panels.
This part of the exhibition opens on May 10 at 7pm with a dialogue on “social and cultural reflection on 40 years of democracy,” featuring panellists Dora Barrancos and Allejandro Horowicz.
Another panel featuring León Carlos Arslanián, Ricardo Gil Lavedra, Guillermo Ledesma, and Jorge Valegra Aráoz — members of the 1985 court which famously sentenced the leaders of the military junta who ruled Argentina during the dictatorship — will take place on May 12 from 5.30pm to 6.30pm.
Other intellectuals to be featured throughout the exhibition include journalist Irina Hauser, poet Julián Axat, economist Alfredo Zaiat, and journalist Néstor Restivo.
The democracy exhibition will close on May 13 with a 7pm panel on the “literary and generational map that has been taking shape, and its relationship with the book industry,” featuring Argentine poet Guillermo Saavedra as the moderator.
‘From the author to the reader, and vice versa’
Award-winning writer, professor and literary critic Martin Kohan has been selected to deliver the inaugural speech on April 27 at La Rural.
“Ultimately, whether through writing or speaking, all we will do is put words into circulation,” Kohan stated in remarks about his selection.
Kohan revealed that he plans to write his speech by hand in the same bar where he has written every book, short story, or essay he has composed in the last 20 years: a cozy place called La Orquídea on Avenida Corrientes.
According to Kohan, the fair, and thus his speech, are simply, “the extension of a scheme of discussion, of exchange, of dialogue about literature.”
Fervor de Buenos Aires: honouring young Borges
A century after his first book of poems, Fervor de Buenos Aires, was published, Jorge Luis Borges will be honoured at the Feria through a series of readings and discussions on April 29, May 3, and May 13.
His first book, released in mid-1923, was printed by his father with a cover art illustration from his sister. It humbly presented Borges’ collection of poems, without page numbers, prologue, or indices.
“The work prefigures the genius of what he produced later. In these cases, many authors deny what they did in their youth, but this does not happen with Borges, his record is homogenous, without cracks” Alejandro Vaccaro, president of the El Libro Foundation and head of SADE, said, explaining the focus on Borges’ youth.
“Borges revolutionised the language, style, theme, treatment, and aesthetics of fiction. No writer did it all together before Borges,” added Razu Alauddin, a Bangladeshi translator.
Laurels for Chilean writers
Acclaimed Chilean poet, essayist, diplomat and educator Gabriela Mistral is also on the list of special guests and she is due to deliver a reading of her selected poems on May 8 at 6.30 pm in the José Hernández room.
Mistral has won many prizes throughout her life, including the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1945, and she has appeared on the 5,000-Chilean peso bill since July 1981.
Mistral is one of the many Chilean thinkers who will be recognised as a native of the guest city of honour.
The fair acts as “a window for millions of Argentines and Latin Americans to discover the cultural richness of our literature and, through it, also our attractions as a city full of vineyards, mountains and cultural life,” said Claudio Orrego Larrain, governor of the Santiago Metropolitan Area.
Dates, hours, and ticket details
Tickets, which cost 800 pesos for Mondays through Thursdays and 1,200 for Fridays, weekends, and bank holidays, can be purchased on the fair’s website (www.el-libro.org.ar) or in-person at La Rural’s box office, which opens on April 27.
Free admission will be granted on all days for children aged 12 and under, visiting schools, people with disabilities and teachers. During Monday through Friday, free admission will also be available for students, retirees, and pension holders.
The fair runs from 2pm to 10pm Monday to Friday and between 1pm and 10pm on weekends and holidays.
On Saturday, April 29, the fair will run for one night only until midnight and free admission will be allowed after 8pm.