Choosing a new book can be an intensely stressful experience. Anyone who has ever stepped in to a bookstore has instantly understood the Frank Zappa maxim “so many books, too little time,” as sometimes the sheer quantity of published work makes it near impossible to know where to start. This is such a common phenomenon that there’s even a word in Japanese, ‘tsundoku,’ which refers to the act of stockpiling books that will never be read (guilty). However, the Feria del Libro will make the choice much clearer for you.
In the midst of naysayers declaring the end for the printed word, Argentina paints a different picture. Over 44 million books are sold per year, and a study from 2015 showed that Buenos Aires is the city with the most bookshops per capita in the world, with 25 for every 100,000 inhabitants. All this is further galvanized by the annual Feria del Libro, a non-profit public entity which aims to promote books and book-reading. This year’s edition takes place over 20 days, from April 26 to May 14.
This is the most important annual literary event in the Spanish-speaking world. This year they expect to welcome over one million visitors; 481 exhibitiors, 104 international authors, 12,000 book professionals, and 15 countries will be represented. Every year, a wide range of national and international authors make an appearance, and this year sees the arrival of several big international names, like Paul Auster, Mario Vargas Llosa and Yasmina Reza.
This year the Feria has tapped in to the national zeigeist by putting the emphasis on female authors. The event will be inaugurated tonight with a speech by Argentine author and playwright Claudia Piñeiro and this year sees the opening of a new Sexual Diversity Space: Pride and Prejudice. Named after the seminal work by Jane Austen, the area recognises how proponents of sexual diversity have fought for the right to manifest pride and have combated prejudices.
In the light of the burgeoning feminist movement in Argentina and the move away from rampant machismo, this space explores how the increased visibility of sexually dissident movements have allowed society to move away from the rigid definitions of the ‘male’ and ‘female’ and have encouraged the recognition of alternative ways of living. As the world continues to grapple with the consequences of toxic masculinity, spaces such as this which value and celebrate inclusivity demonstrate how Argentina is at the epicenter of the global gender debate.
The program includes a staggering 1,500 activities, including conferences, readings, workshops, and book presentations, all enriching the cultural life of the city and country. Not to be missed are the Latin American Writers Dialogue, taking place from May 5-8, the International Festival of Poetry, from April 27-29 and the ‘Future Zone,’ an area which looks at unconventional writing formats from poetry marathons to interactive exhibitions and video-game festivals and will encourage even the most reluctant reader to look at literature in a whole new light.
What is particularly gratifying about the festival is that it does not promote the national at the expense of the international, instead preferring to encourage a multicultural celebration where different communities can share their traditions. This year’s Guest City of Honor is Montevideo, which will be celebrated with tributes to the country’s classic novelists as well as spaces dedicated to Uruguayan contemporary literature.
Throughout the whole festival there is a clear undercurrent which emphasizes the the future of literature. Among the six featured authors representing Mexico is one of the country’s most exciting young writers, Janeth G.S., who at age 16 published her first piece ¿Quién mató a Alex? (Who Killed Alex?) on the literary social media platform Wattpad where it was read over 37 million times. On April 28 she will having an open discussion of her work and process with Cristina Alemany in an event aimed at millennials. Events such as this are essential for moving away from the constant criticism of this generations’ reading habits, instead demonstrating how literature has a fluid and multifaceted future.
With so much on, there really is something for everyone, so be sure to check out this full program here for more details.
Feria del Libro 2018 | Predio La Rural, Av. Sarmiento 2704, Palermo | Feria del Libro 2018 | Mon – Thurs 2PM – 10PM, Fri 2PM – 11PM, Sat 1PM – 11PM, Sun and May 1 1PM – 10PM | Thursday April 26 – Monday May 14 2018
Tickets ARS $80 Mon – Thurs, ARS $120 Fri – Sun and Feriados | Three-day pass ARS $190 | Free entry for under 12s, school visits and people with a disability | Free entry from 8PM on Noche de la Ciudad (April 26) and Noche de Montevideo (April 28)