The 41st Buenos Aires International Book Fair hits the city today, held at the Palermo’s La Rural from April 23rd (neat!) until May 11th. Laying just claim to the prestigious title of Biggest Book Fair in the Spanish-speaking world, past years have seen visitors numbering over 12,000 professionals, over a million members of the public, and an extensive guest list of influential international authors. Here’s what need to know:
WHAT: The first three days are dedicated to workshops and seminars available for those with professional interest in the field, from booksellers to illustrators. Doors then open to the public, and all literary hell breaks loose; we are promised a veritable metropolis of book stalls and signings consisting in more than 45,000sqm of floor space (yes that’s right, 1/10th of the size of Vatican City), populated by 514 exhibitors hailing from 25 different countries and regions.
With so many books on sale, see it as an opportunity to re-furnish your intellectual gymnasium if this 30 degree heat summer has fucked up your real-life exercise regime.
Or, if reading a whole book seems like too much of a strain (and cut the anti-millennial crap, Grandpa, I’m talking to you too) the festival is holding a load of talks, activities and workshops on site. Prolific international authors on the guest-list include Javier Cercas, John Banville, Rosa Montero and Dan Wells; a who’s who of the over 50 confirmed invitees can be found here, alongside a brief rundown of why they matter. The site has been updated to include the full programme, which can be found here, but here’s a brief rundown and some highlights:
- Every day, 19h-22h, Zona Explora. Play, learn, or practice chess with Torre Blanca; suitable for all levels.
- Thursday, April 23rd, 18h, Sala Jorge Luis Borges: Roberto ‘Tito’ Cossa, celebrated as one of the biggest dogs in the history of Argentine playwrights, will inaugurates the fair.
- Saturday, April 25th, 16h-18h: KEL stand. Jessica Talbot, author of Picaflor – Finding home in South America, will be signing copies of her book.
- April 26th, 18h-19h30, Zona Futuro: Writers, film directors, designers, musicians, and journalists each take to the stage for 12 mnutes to recommend 7 things they love. Pick the minds of movers and cultural shakers.
- April 27th, 20h-22h, Zona Futuro: Musicians, writers, and journalists share their influences and literary discoveries in this seection of live interviews.
- April 29th, 18h30-20h, Sala Francisco Gabilondo Soler: Book Presentation- “El conflicto palestino-israelí: 100 preguntas y respuestas” (The Israeli-Palestinean Conflict: 100 Questions and ,).
- April 29th, 18h30-20h, Sala José Hernández: Presentation of Spiritual Intelligence by the recently passed Eduardo Chaktoura, the titular concept relating to the intelligence that allows us to deal with problems related to the meaning of life and the values that contextualize our behavior and thus guide our ethical actions. Conducted in Spanish.
- Friday, May 1st, 20h30-22h, Sala Alfonso Reyes: ‘Damned Texts’- readings and acoustic performance from Miliano Ramirez, Ingrid Pelicori, Alejandro Sastre, and Marianela Rusconi.
- Saturday, May 2nd, 18h30-20h, Sala Alfonso Rey: ‘Journalism an Literature: The Art of the Chronicle’. Roundtable featuring Héctor Abad Faciolince, Silvina Heguy, Josefina Licitra, and Héctor Pavón. Conducted in Spanish.
- Saturday, May 2nd, 20h30-22h, Sala Haroldo Conti: “Sex, drugs and Internet in Recent Argentina Literature”. Roundtable featuring Juan Sklar, Luis Mey, Hernán Vanoli, Lola Copacabana and Diego Erlan. Conducted in Spanish.
- Tuesday 5th May, 18h30-20h, Sala Vicoria Ocampo: Sandra Bianchi and Fabián Vique present Marcelo Zlotogwiazda, Luisa Valenzuela, María Rosa Lojo, and Juan José Panno, on the subject of microfiction against gender violence. Linking into ‘Microfiction Day’ on Thursday 7th, a day dedicated to a new and pithy breed of compact literature (shut it, Grandpa). Twitter competition will hopefully be held following last year’s success.
- Wednesday 6th May, 20h30-22h, Sala José Hernández: ‘Culture in Movement: Book Fair Edition’. A night of klemer, folk, jazz, and swing with the Familia de Ukeleles and the Cabalá Klezner Band.
- Thursday 7th and Monday 11th May, 14h30-16h, Sala Adolfo Bioy Casares: ‘Re-writing Myth: The Tragic Hero’. From Esquio to Sartre, by Julio Crespo.
- Sunday 10th May, 15h-16h30, Sala Juan Rulfo. Influence of new technologies on Korean culture, with German Barraza, Ana Cabanella y Eduardo Oviedo and Gabriel Pressello.
There’s also a “Zona Explora“, offering a rolling schedule of interactive activities focused on exploring the technological and scientific aspects of our everyday life; writing workshops of various types will also be taking place throughout the festival.
HOW: Super-easily. Take the subte D line to Plaza Italia, or any one of the figuratively thousands of colectivos that will put you right on the doorstep of La Rural. Handy interactive map here.
And, if you’re flying in, Aerolíneas Argentinas is doing a promotional discount for the festival- email ‘mail firstname.lastname@example.org’, subject line: ‘Solicitud de Código: Aerolíneas Argentinas’.
WHEN: April 23rd- May 9th, Monday to Friday 14h-22h; Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays 13h-22h. Get there early and/or expect queues. If you’re a student, bring your ID card. There are discounts at the door.
WHY: “Only the very weak-minded refuse to be influenced by literature and poetry.” (Cassandra Clare) And how lame is weak-mindedness. So get in the queue.