SOL invades the
Feria Internacional del Libro XVI ▬ The 2002 Guadalajara Book Fair
The main problem with the Guadalajara Book Fair is that we don't all get to go every year. No need to despair, though; the magic of that Internet thing can bring the FIL to you, sort of. The University of Guadalajara's radio station, XHUG, covers the fair like a snug dustjacket. Bring a portable radio if you do go, and tune it to 104.3 FM. A news station, XEAAA at 880 on the AM dial, also runs some FIL features. If you're stuck at home, you can get live streaming audio from both XEAAA and XHUG. It's the university station, though, that really embraces the FIL, conducts interviews inside the pavilion, and offers
An overflow crowd lines up for a
discussion with Silvio Rodríguez
But not even Internet radio can give you that giddy feeling of rubbing shoulders with tens of thousands of booklovers. A half-million attendees over nine days gives the FIL a crowded atmosphere. Agoraphobic librarians will be relieved to know that the hoi polloi is barred till evening during three midweek "professional days" set aside for hard-core book buyers and dealers. Professionals—and all you have to do to be one of those, Flaco discovered, is shell out forty bucks for a necktag that comes with, you guessed it, a commemorative book sack stuffed with useful propaganda—are treated to a number of privileges, like access to a lounge area crawling with librarians and publishing industry types. There the wheels of commerce are lubricated with oceans of free coffee and sometimes, or so we've been told, shots of a native Jaliscan beverage of some renown brewed from the versatile agave plant.
The wildly beloved Silvio Rodriguez—for many around the world, the musical voice of the Cuban revolution—broke three years of performance silence before a huge audience in the esplanade of the FIL. He also participated in the series of "Mil
|The night Silvio was to sing
three songs in
front of the FIL building, some 10,000
fans came. He sang eight.
In the book industry, the word "bestseller" has, in any language, a cash register-style ring to
|Two skinny bookmen, both full of hot air|
A group of people, drawn together by a cultural event and catalyzed by ideas, is a thriving,
thinking organism in which happy synapses fire away. People can meet and learn from each
other; they can share thoughts and launch relationships. Capitalists, though,
Books at the Cuban pavilion. The one
seen here celebrates the old Detroit iron
that cruises the island—which just opened
a museum of classic US automibiles
|The incomparable Paco Ignacio Taibo II|
Arango was one of a number of authors who took their acts to local high schools as part of a program called Ecos de la FIL. And a writing contest for young people drew hundreds of entries. There a universe of activity on the floor of the book fair, within the Expo center, but as you'll see on the pages that follow, that's only the beginning. Before we leave the bustling FIL floor, though, consider the discovery made in a quiet, hidden corner by one Hajime Yukawa (far right), a Los Angeles bookstore clerk who was born in Guadalajara's sister city of Kyoto, Japan. Who would have thought that one of the stands at the FIL would feature the local Japan Foundation, or that Ms. Yukawa (who is, for better or for worse, closely related to Flaco by marriage) would discover there some bilingual Spanish-Japanese dictionaries with features that some customers of the store where she works had asked about, but been unable to find?
This year's FIL was a great place to learn about Cuban culture and Cuban literature. Every year, though, the FIL is a magnificent place to learn something about the world.
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