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Book fair offers cultural feast, flavor of Chile, books & more books

November 22, 2012

Over 500 authors from 28 countries are due to attend the 26th International Book Fair (FIL) at the Expo Guadalajara from November 24 to December 2.

The world’s second-largest literature festival after Germany’s Frankfurt Book Fair, the FIL is expected to draw over 600,000 visitors. Organized by the University of Guadalajara (UdeG), it brings in over 330 million dollars per year.

The majority of books on sale (as well as the presentations and book signings)  are in Spanish, but there will be plenty of English-language titles to browse as well.

The fair is not just about books.  A profusion of ancillary conferences, forums and workshops cover hot-button issues such as biodiversity, gender violence, humanism, tourism, migration and cultural policy. There are special events for book professionals that include librarians, journalists, translators, illustrators, reading promoters and e-book publishers. Children (FIL Niños) and young adults are catered for with dozens of special storytelling readings and activities.

While the scale of the event may seem daunting, the fair’s sophisticated online program allows browsers to select events and create their own, more manageable agenda.

Over several days the FIL will stage a series of events in tribute to the late Carlos Fuentes, the Mexican literary giant and regular FIL attendee who died in May, as well as celebrating the 80th birthday of Elena Poniatowska, arguably Mexico’s greatest living writer and intellectual.

Representatives from Chile, this year’s guest of honor, will take part in round tables, conferences, workshops, literary presentations, poetry readings, theater productions, film screenings, art exhibitions and live concerts (every evening in the Foro FIL at 9 p.m.).

U.S. author Jonathan Franzen, best known for his acclaimed novels “The Corrections” and “Freedom,” will be present, as will the novelist and New York Times Magazine writer John Wray.

Lovers of the beat generation will not want to miss well-known Mexican actor Diego Luna (“Y Tu Mama Tambien”) performing a dramatic rendition of Allen Ginsberg’s classic poem “Howl” with music by rock and folk star Jaime Lopez on November 29, 8- 9.30 p.m.

Other literary events focus on Welsh and Irish literature and contemporary novels from Quebec, while there will also be a range of kids activities, publishing meetings and discussions on the impact of the e-book in the world of literary sales.

The FIL has drawn controversy this year by awarding its grand prize to Peruvian author Alfredo Bryce Echenique. The decision sparked an outcry in certain literary circles, as Bryce has long been dogged by allegations of plagiarism over a number of articles he supposedly authored in his native country.

The organizing committee chose to rescind his invitation last month, with Bryce set to receive the prestigious Literary Award in Romantic Languages, plus 150,000 dollars in prize money, in a low-key ceremony at his home in Lima

The FIL is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. (5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on November 26 to 28 for the general public). Entry costs 20 pesos (15 for children, students, teachers and senior citizens). For more information visit

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