The Book Fair returns to the face-to-face format: the novelties of the 2022 edition


There is a Book Fair withdrawal syndrome. It feels like it’s missing. It was two years of absence and we hope to satisfy all this anxiety. Directing is a huge responsibility but there is a very strong team that has been working for years, and I have learned from them,” he says. Ezekiel Martineznew director of the Fair, son of Tomás Eloy Martínez and longtime cultural journalist.

Included between April 28 and May 26, the Fair will seek to regain its place as the main cultural event of the Argentine calendar with an attractive offer. Where to start? An alliance with the Fundación Nuevo Periodismo, or Fundación Gabo, of Colombia; will bring a journalistic book workshop, by Jorge Carrión; and will pay tribute to García Márquez forty years after the Nobel Prize. There will be Jaime Abello Banfi, the director of the Foundation, and the writer’s son, Rodrigo García, via diffusion from Los Angeles, where he lives.

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The Book Fair returns in person after the pandemic (Photo: DYN).

“Obviously, it is the fair that recovers face-to-face attendance, which cannot be replaced by anything, but it will have the diffusion as a new initiative. It is a legacy of the pandemic that will allow to have writers from other countries who will dialogue with the people present in the room. Thus, people from other parts of the country or the world will have the opportunity to participate in our activities”.

What activities can you do at the Book Fair

The centenary of another Nobel laureate, Joseph Saramagowill be celebrated with a reading marathon with texts by its most emblematic female characters, selected by Pilar del Ríohis wife and Spanish translator, who will attend the event. Mario Vargas Llosa will be twice, two intense days at the show: one presenting his book on Pérez Galdós and the other announcing an alliance with the Vargas Llosa Chair. What is it about? “You’ll have to go there that day to find out,” says Martínez.

The event will also feature the presence of John Katzenbach, the author of The psychoanalyst, which generated hours and hours of rows during its last visit. From Spain will come Javier Cercas and Luis García Montero, director of the Cervantes Institute, who will take the opportunity to pay tribute to his wife, Almudena Grandes.

(Picture: File)
(Picture: File)

“And a lot of lesser-known authors come, which serves make them known to the Argentine public, like Albert Pijuan, who goes through the Llull Institute, from Catalonia. He won the first edition of the Finestres prize, with Camila Sosa Villada. So we’re going to bring them together and do a joint presentation. Or David Wagner from Germany, who breaks it in Europe but is not yet known here. The fair is also good for these things,” commented the director.

as a stimulant, the Foundation works on checks, which are given at the entrance, and significant discounts in alliance with different banks. The guest city is still Havana, the guest of the truncated edition of 2020. Who will make up your delegation? “We give priority to people from the Cuban Embassy for them to give the scoop on who’s coming, but they won’t just be writers, too there will be some rum, music and all that“, he explained.

Ezequiel Martínez, the new director of the Book Fair, gave his opinion on the influence of politics on the event

-The last face-to-face edition will be remembered as the Fair turned into a great political act, with militancy and hype, with attacks on journalists who covered the event, for the presentation of Trulyby Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. A book that was presented, exceptionally, by the director of the Fair, María Teresa Carbano. There have been chair kicks, boycotts, what do you think of this political profile so marked, and sometimes violent, of the Buenos Aires fair?

-The fair is part of folklore, it is a reflection of our society, of who we are. These things happen because it is a plural fair. Everyone can come, introduce themselves and say their thing. The inaugural speech is a sounding board because the authorities are there and the demands of the sector are listed. This year he will be in charge of Guillermo Saccomanno, and we expect a lot from his words. The fair is part of the difference, of the debate. And we Argentines are a bit like that, emphatic when we give our opinion, something that also happens at the fair. We are already used to this being one of its features. We always want to party in peace, but the book is not just narrative, not just literature, it’s history, it’s essay, it’s journalism, it’s chronicle. The book goes through us.

Ezequiel Martínez advanced the Book Fair (Photo: Instagram / eze.martinez.01)
Ezequiel Martínez advanced the Book Fair (Photo: Instagram / eze.martinez.01)

-But the Fair as an institution, should it present a book by Cristina, or by Macri? Shouldn’t it be limited to its role as a host?

-Nerd. We are hosts and every book is welcome, with limits on human rights issues, which encourage violence or discrimination. There are certain limits that are in the regulations. After that, all voices. We can’t censor cause I don’t like how you think.

Cristina Kirchner presented her book on May 9 at the Salon du livre (Source: AFP)
Cristina Kirchner presented her book on May 9 at the Salon du livre (Source: AFP)

-The publishing sector has experienced complicated situations. The independent labels with problems to get paper, the large ones with their reduced plans, what gift do you find?

– Difficulties cannot be avoided, and the pandemic has only increased them, but not only in the book sector, but in all sectors. The Book Fair generates new readers, and which ultimately helps these independent publishers, who have a privileged space at the event, and a new audience is reached, who perhaps does not regularly go to a bookstore, but accompanies their family, or the young people who enter and they end up being interested and taking something. And maybe when the fair is over, they’ll walk into a bookstore like they’ve never done before.

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