FILBo is back as Colombia’s top literary event

Richard Emblin

If the pandemic near obliterated in-person events in Colombia, 2022 is ready for face-to-face interaction, and the Bogotá International Book Fair (FILBo) has opened its doors as one of the most important cultural events of the year. The 34th edition of FILBo once again reunites book lovers, merchants, authors and publishers, three years since its last in-person edition in 2019.

Korea, Guest Nation of Honor

Among the many important aspects of this year’s FILBo is the Republic of Korea invited as guest nation of honor. The Asian powerhouse of innovative technologies, consumer electronics, K-pop mania, Anime and cult art films has maintained diplomatic relations with Colombia since 1962, and to mark the sixtieth anniversary of bilateral relations, President Iván Duque formally invited the country and delegation appointed by President Moon Jae-in to participate in FILBo 34. In exchange, Colombia is the guest country of honor for the upcoming Seoul International Book Fair (June 1 to 5).

The country pavilion inside Corferias will host various activities representing Korean culture, art and way of life, including dance performances, book readings, design workshops and exhibition of over 170 illustrated Korean children’s books. Included in a stellar line-up of writers, editors, scientists, illustrators and artists is Man Booker prize winner Han Kang (The Vegetarian), and Kim Hyo-eun (author of I Am the Subway, winner of the NYT best illustrated picture book in 2021).

Former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon will also attend the fair to present his autobiography Resolved: United Nations in a divided world. Literary translator Guho Cho is another high-profile delegate, known for translating into Korean two works by Nobel Laureate Gabriel García Márquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude and Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

A Pavilion for Bogotá

For the first time Bogotá gets its own pavilion within the fair, a space dedicated solely to presenting the city’s vibrant urban culture, public libraries and education. The pavilion will showcase sixty different activities related to the district’s pillars of social inclusion. In addition, a section of FILBo’s extensive program will be accessible to a public beyond the Corferias exhibition grounds with “FILBo en la Ciudad” and one that includes various activities in different localities of the capital.

FILBo’s program includes over 1,600 in-person cultural events, with the participation of over 500 guests and industry professionals from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Cuba, Spain, United States, France, Holland, Romania, Israel, Italy, Mexico, and Netherlands.

The fair’s commercial and editorial platforms also reopen to business and networking sessions, with a focus on publishing, digital marketing and copyright laws.

With an impressive slate of international and national writers participating in readings, debates, lectures, and book signings, FILBo will also host concerts, poetry recitals and dance companies.

Among the Latin American writers attending this year’s edition is Chilean author Benjamín Labatut (La Antártica empieza aquí, When We Cease to Understand the World), Peruvian writer Gabriela Weiner, Spain’s J.J Benitéz (Caballo de Troya), Argentine writer and actress Camila Sosa Villada, and Isabel Allende (Chile) in the virtual realm.

The domestic literary cast includes Santiago Gamboa, Laura Restrepo, Pilar Quintana, Héctor Abad Faciolince, to name a few.

Mexican singer songwriter Julieta Venegas, American Pulitzer-winning poet and essayist Anne Boyer (The Undying), and renowned French illustrator Benjamin Lacombe will also be present at a fair that has earned its reputation as the second largest book fair in Latin America, and by far “the biggest bookstore in the country for all audiences,” claims Andrés Sarmiento, director of FILBo.

The fair will also introduce a Library of Colombian female writers, project developed by the Ministry of Culture and that safeguards the 18 literary titles that date from colonial times to present, as well as “Digital Family Library” with 150 free books to encourage readership in Colombian homes. The fair will also host on April 20 the debate “Mucho más que política” with the five presidential candidates.

The entire program for this two-week event (April 19 – May 2) is available online:

Given on-going biosecurity measures under the National Health Emergency for coronavirus, all persons attending FILBO must present proof of a completed vaccination scheme, and wearing of a face mask is obligatory inside the pavilions and open spaces.

Corferias: Cra. 37 No.24 – 67

Opening hours: Sunday through Thursday, 10:00am to 7:00pm

Friday and Saturday: 10:00 to 9:00pm