THE book fairs that proliferate across the world are not only an incentive for writers, but also for the public. While bookstores often see only sporadic visits, with the exception of those inveterate readers, such events, as in the case of Havana for example, attract tens of thousands.
The colonial fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña, a splendid site built in the 18th century, is the main venue of the 26th Havana International Book Fair (February 9 - 19), but there are eleven other secondary venues spread across Havana’s El Vedado area, including the Pabellón Cuba, the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) headquarters, the Casa de las Américas, and the Centro Dulce María Loynaz.
For this true celebration of books and literature, Cuban publishers have prepared a wide range of titles of various genres, as well as numerous talks and forums, with a particular emphasis on those paying tribute to the late historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro. A total of 26 books by the Cuban leader will be presented as part of his 90th Birthday collection.
During the first days of the Fair, in the Sala Guillén, the main room of the Cabaña, the colloquium series “Fidel, politics and culture” will be take place with two talks: “Political thought” and “Culture and humanism in Fidel”. In addition, two conferences will be held: “Fidel’s concept of the role of culture in the Cuban Revolution”, by Cuban Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto; and “Humanism in Fidel and his legacy”, by Havana City Historian, Eusebio Leal.
The first Monday of the Fair will see the launch of two important titles by the Capitán San Luis publishing house: Fidel Castro y los Estados Unidos. 90 discursos, intervenciones y reflexiones, by Abel Enrique González Santamaría; and Fidel Castro. ¿Qué se encontró al triunfo de la Revolución?, by Juan Carlos Rodríguez Cruz.
From the publishing house of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, 17 titles by national and international authors will be available at its headquarters in El Vedado, among them a reprint of the anthology Desde el invierno, with 23 Canadian short stories (including by Nobel laureate Alice Munro), put together in 1997 by writers Margaret Atwood and Graeme Gibson, who will both be present.
Representing the guest country of honor to this year’s Fair, Atwood, undoubtedly the most prominent Canadian writer of today, will present Antología poética, including some of her marvelous works, in the Cabaña’s Canadian Pavilion, as well as the books of poetry: Expeditions (1965); The Journals of Susanna Moodie (1970); Selected Poems (1976); Morning in the Burned House (1996) and The Door (2007). Atwood is also known for her novels, short stories and reviews.
Thanks to the Unión publishing house, readers will also be able to acquire the fourth novel by Eliseo Altunaga, Lágrimas negras, in which, according to the publisher, he paints a picture of the early years of the Republic, and adds poetic language in the vignettes that accompany the chapters.
One book that will be much sought is Sombras nada más, a compilation by Laidi Fernández of texts by 36 Cuban authors that address violence against women, a pertinent theme, recurrent around the world today.
Unión also joins the careful attention to children’s literature, which this year returns to the Cabaña’s Tesoro de Papel pavilion, and has published four books for children and young people: El amor es una lucecita maravillosa, by Marcia Jiménez; Un circo en el dibujo, by Néstor Fernández; La familia Bóleke, by Luis Alberto Vaillant, and Jugar con las estrellas, an anthology of stories by six Dominican, Puerto Rican and Cuban writers.
Another genre is also on offer to interested readers - the essay - and with nothing less than a book by Italian Italo Calvino, Six Memos for the Next Millennium, an extraordinary new title, co-edited by Unión and the Italian non-profit association ARCI, copies of which will be donated to Cuban libraries.
Stand J-9 in the Cabaña will feature the SurEditores collection, offering titles such as Presencia negra en la cultura cubana, by publishers Ediciones Sensemayá, of the Nicolás Guillén Foundation; Versos Sencillos and Versos Libres, by José Martí, and The Graveyard by the Sea by Frenchman Paul Valery, in celebration of the centenary of this work, with an accompanying forum convened by UNEAC.
SurEditores is also joining the editorial tributes to Fidel with the books Cantar de Alejandro, a selection of texts by Ibero-American authors; Fidel señala el camino, compilation by Hildebrando Pérez; and Buenos días, Fidel, by Nicolás Guillén (Editorial Sensemayá).
THE CENTRO PABLO AT THE FAIR
Pavilion C 5B is the meeting point for the Pablo de la Torriente Brau Cultural Center and readers, where this institution will offer the public more than twenty publications, including five new titles and three recently launched in 2016, all under the Ediciones La Memoria collection.
Standing out among these titles is one dedicated to the journalistic work of Pablo de la Torriente Brau, in all its richness entitled Pablo en Ahora; a selection of his texts published in the newspaper Ahora between October, 1933, and March, 1935, among them the most brilliant series, today also anthologies: La isla de los 500 asesinatos and Realengo 18.
Music and film also find a space in the Editorial La Memoria, with Sara González, a selection of interviews and testimonies from her friends and associates on tours and in concert, which, beyond examining the artist’s career, testify to a human being who found a means of existing within song. The second title is Los días de Manuel Octavio Gómez, in which Jorge Calderón demonstrates not only the professional career of this filmmaker, but also the man behind the camera: his origins, social background, concerns, studies, interests, training, and how and why he became a man of the cinema.
In addition to this book on the filmmaker Manuel Octavio Gómez, are those to be presented by Ediciones ICAIC in the Dulce María Loynaz Center: El espejo roto. Morfologías del cuerpo gay-lesbiano/queer en el cine, by Alberto Garrandés; La edad de la ilusiones. El cine de Fernando Pérez, by Joel del Río; Vivir bajo la lluvia. Julio García Espinosa, by Dolores Calviño; ; Cronología del cine cubano IV, by Arturo Agramante and Luciano Castillo; Alejo Carpentier: la facultad mayor de la cultura, by Luis Álvarez; and Memorias de un director de arte, by Pedro García Espinosa.
Publishers Ediciones Boloña, of the Office of the Havana City Historian, have programmed several book launches for some of their 19 titles, which can be purchased during the Fair in the traditional space on the Calle de Madera of the Plaza de Armas, in the historic center of the city.
Four titles by Eusebio Leal will be presented: Hijo de mi tiempo, including reflections on a series of speeches and conferences on Cuban identity, and Aeterna sapientia, to which are added Fundada Esperanza and La luz sobre el espejo, re-editions by the José Martí and Nuevo Milenio publishing houses, respectively.
A unique volume is Devocionario nuevo y completísimo en prosa y verso, by Camagüey writer Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda, published in tribute to this Cuban intellectual on the 144th anniversary of her death.
Other attractive titles from Ediciones Boloña are a poetry anthology entitled Sitio, by Fina García Marruz, and Centenario de Miramar. Reparto habanero, by several authors and that will be appropriately presented in the Casa de las Tejas Verdes on the corner of 2nd Street and Fifth Avenue, Miramar.
The 26th Havana International Book Fair 2017 will see a wealth of book launches, forums, colloquia, and dialogues with some of the 162 guest authors from 36 countries, including Ireland, Brazil, Australia, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela , Ecuador, Spain, France and of course Canada, guest country of honor. We will be sure to follow its progress.