The Bogotá International Book Fair (FILBO) is the largest literary event of the year, held every April in the Corferias exhibition center. For this edition 31, award-winning novelists, publishers and literary agents from across the world will descend on the capital for 16 days to discuss the future of wordsmiths, new releases, and state of Colombian literature in the post-conflict. Visitors to the fair will be able to pick and choose from some 150,000 titles covering all genres.
Starting April 17, FILBO 31 will host a cluster of literary stars, among them 2010 Nobel Laureate Mario Vargas Llosa; Irvine Welsh, the Scottish novelist of Trainspotting; Timothée de Fombelle, author of Neverland and one of France’s bright young talents; Tim Fanning, the Irish historian of Paisanos: The Forgotten Irish Who Changed the Face of Latin America; Italian philosopher Nuccio Ordine; Robert Redeker, the French high school teacher who wrote an article critical of Islam, the Koran and conduct of Muslims in France, only to find himself caught up in a deluge of death threats.
South America’s literary stars include Chilean novelists Sara Bertrand, Isabelle Mellado and Joseph Michael Brennan. Representing Argentina, this year’s guest nation of honor, are 32 authors, and a long line-up of editors, journalists and artists. Among the writers that have been invited as part of the official Argentine delegation are Alberto Manguel, Eduardo Sacheri, Mauro Libertella, Pablo de Santis, and María Teresa Andruetto.
Argentine food, music, and film will be showcased in 3,000 square meters of Corferias’ Pavilion 4, where guests will also be able to interact with a “live experience” of a football stadium and tango dance lesson. Painted with the colors of their national flag, the space of everything Albiceleste will also exhibit a photographic exhibition by Daniel Mordzinski with portraits of great Argentine writers, including Borges, Cortázar, Saer, Piglia, among others. Adding some notes to a country of literary greats are the Ariel Ardit Orchestra, accordionist Chango Spasiuk and Analía González’s Compañía en Movimiento. This is the second time Argentina has been invited as the guest nation of honor in FILBO. The fair’s organizers are expecting 550,000 visitors to attend this edition, which runs until May 2nd.
Under the slogan “Siente las ideas” (Feel the ideas), FILBO has added more rooms for talks on illustration, film, science and digital platforms. With 1,500 activities listed on the official program, there’s a learning space for children with FILBO Children and youngsters called FILBO Young People. These spaces want to encourage reading, conversation and an understanding of the world of print.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Colombian counter-culture movement of Nadaism that combined avant-garde poetry, theater and literature during the political conservatism of the late 1950s. As a way of recognizing the non-conventional thinkers of their age, FILBO will host a talk moderated by Jotamario Arbeláez accompanied with videos of nadaist Gonzalo Arango, and poetry by Amilcar Osorio and Eduardo Escobar.
The Colombian contingent is very complete with acclaimed novelists, essayists, opinion leaders and new talent. Among the participants are the two Santiagos (Gamboa and Espinosa), Carolina Sanin, Laura Restrepo, Antonio Caballero, Héctor Abad Faciolince, German Castro, Enrique Serrano and Sergio Ocampo, among others. Among the 23 countries that will have their literary citizens participating at FILBO 31 is Jonathan Levi, (U.S), Joost de Vries (Netherlands), Akihiro Nishino (Japan), Mark Singer (U.S), Taiye Selasi (UK) and David Lloyd (UK).
One of the most anticipated moments of this fair will be when Ingrid Betancourt, the former Colombian politician, who was kidnapped for six years by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla enters Corferias to present her most recent work The Blue Line. Betancourt is best known for her memoir detailing her harrowing ordeal in the jungle with Even Silence Has an End.
Betancourt was released from the clutches of FARC in 2008 after former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez ordered a daring operation against the rebels using a military helicopter painted as the Red Cross and security forces disguised as humanitarian workers. The latest release by the high-profile Colombian is set in Argentina during the Dirty War and a work of fiction that draws on Colombia’s most famous literary style, magic realism.
From listening to Irvine Welsh, and why his ‘bad boy’ literature has turned into a cult with Trainspotting, to the homecoming of one of Colombia’s most admired – and controversial – voices, Ingrid Betancourt, FILBO 31 will deliver on ideas, emotions and plenty of tote carrying intelligentsia.
Corferias. Cra 37 No.24-67.
Admission: $8,500 pesos (Adults), $5,000 (Children aged 5 to 12)