Literary giants from around the world descend on Bogotá starting this Thursday for the 26th edition of the International Book Fair (FILBO), one of the most important events in Latin America for the writing, publishing and editorial industries. The two-week festival, which was key in the city’s designation as a UNESCO World Literary Capital in 2007, will host hundreds of special guest authors, poets and journalists from more than 20 countries, in addition to thousands of agents, publishers and visitors at the Corferias convention center from April 18 to May 1.
Portugal is this year’s Honored Guest Country, meaning that dozens of that nation’s literary geniuses will be in attendance in addition to a variety of cultural events planned to celebrate Portuguese art, film and culinary traditions. Noted literary participants from the European nation include Vasco Graça Moura, Adélia Carvalho, Alexandre Honrado, Ana Luísa Amaral and more than 20 others.
Also joining the list of Portuguese literary greats is Pilar del Río, the wife of author José Saramago, Portugal’s only Nobel Prize winner. Del Río has helped in the editing and translation of her late husband’s works in several different languages and will offer book fair attendees a unique portrait of the legendary author.
A living Nobel Prize for Literature winner will also attend the festival this year for the first time ever. French existentialist Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio won the world’s top literary honor in 2008, and will speak at the book fair as part of the series “Conversations that will Change your Life.” Other key international guests include popular fiction author John Katzenbach, award-winning Spanish writer Juan José Millás, controversial Iranian author Lila Azam Zanganeh and Günter Walraff, a German investigative journalist who helped uncover the inner workings of his home country’s industrial sector.
Celebrated poet William Ospina, author and journalist Juan Gabriel Vásquez, renowned Bogotana writer Laura Restrepo, award-winning author Ángela Becerra and up-and-coming writer Ricardo Silva Romero will represent Colombia at the festival, along with dozens of the nation’s brightest literary talents.
The festival will also highlight in three seminars the works of one of Colombia’s most important contemporary poets, Álvaro Mutis, as he approaches his 90th birthday. Although he lived much of his life outside of Colombia, Mutis had a profound impact on the literature of his home country. As a close friend of Gabriel Garía Márquez, Mutis was credited by the author as having inspired the ideas for some of his most famous works.
Officials expect somewhere between 380,000 and 420,000 visitors for the 26th book fair, an impressive economic and cultural driver for the city and one of the most highly attended festivals at Corferias each year. Last year’s edition drew 415,000 participants and generated more than USD $20 million in deals and contracts through the business fair, hosted in collaboration with Proexport, the government entity overseeing tourism and foreign investment in Colombia.
The book fair recognizes that young readers represent the future of the event, and Bogotá’s newest bookworms are celebrated with five special sessions just for kids held each afternoon from April 24 to 30. In addition to the sessions, Corferias will host a dedicated kids section of the convention center throughout the entirety of the festival filled with thousands of books, illustrations and activities for young attendees.
As one of Latin America’s most prominent cultural capitals prepares to host the world’s greatest writers, the city’s book lovers, aspiring writers and those simply looking for an introduction to the rich literary culture of Colombia and the many other nations represented can’t afford to miss the 26th edition of the Bogotá International Book Fair.