April 21 – May 4
10:00 AM – 8:00 PM
Corferias, Car 37 #24-67
General COP $7,000
Students COP $5,500
Bogota’s International Book Fair (FILBo) is one of the city’s cultural mainstays and the most important literary event in Colombia. The first book fair was organised way back in 1936 by Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, although the current version of the fair was born in 1987, stemming from a need to promote the country’s publishing industry. Since its fourth edition in 1991, the fair has invited at least one guest nation to make the event a truly global experience, with past guests including Japan, France, Brazil, and the United States.
This year, however, it’s Gabriel García Márquez’s fictional town of Macondo that takes centre stage.
FILBo has brought some of the most important names in literature to the city, including Nobel Prize winners like Márquez and Mario Vargas Llosa, as well as other notable writers and cultural icons from all over the world in past chapters of the festival’s history. While it is mainly a literary event, it also promotes many other cultural activities such as music, fine arts, and journalism.
Jerónimo Pizarro is one of the world’s foremost scholars of Fernando Pessoa and Portuguese literature, with a Ph.D. from Harvard University. Felipe Torres caught up with him ahead of the fair
“FILBo is one of the most important book fairs in the world right now, and in the Hispanic context it is, after Mexico’s book fair, the most important one in terms of cultural activities.
“I’m very excited about it because this year Portugal will have a big space. There’ll be around 300 new titles, as well as all the books that are already available here. Plus, there are three invited Portuguese writers I’m excited about: José Tolentino Mendonça, Maria do Rosário Pedreira, and Afonso Cruz, well-known illustrator, musician, filmmaker for a brief period, and he even makes beer! He’s a narrator who has won a series of important awards, and he’s published more than ten books in seven or eight years. I have been lucky enough to be invited to present and interview Afonso Cruz on stage.
“I hope there is a good turnout. I want to feel that what happens in the fair is projected throughout the city, creating a party around books.
“This year’s guest was going to be the Netherlands, but they’ll be the guests next year. I’d have liked it if there had been an invited country AND a homage to García Márquez. We have to pay our respects to García Márquez while still looking at other countries.
“Although it is an ever-changing answer for me, right now my favourite Colombian authors are León de Greiff, Tomás González, and R. H. Moreno Durán. García Márquez is a favorite, but I haven’t read his work in a while.
“If we’re talking about Colombian writers, then La luz difícil by Tomás González is a must-read. In terms of the Portuguese guests, I’d say one of Afonso Cruz’s books: El pintor debajo del lavaplatos.”
Women: the main characters
Taking centre-stage among the stand-out draws of the fair is the panel of female guests who will be giving talks, including: Ukrainian Katja Petrowskaja, the Argentine writer Hebe Uhart, Spain’s Elvira Navarro, Iranian author Sahar Delijani and the US writer and editor Valerie Miles. Other guests hail from Canada, Ecuador, Chile, Uruguay and Perú. French writer and violinist Leonor de Recondo and children’s saga authors Anna Todd and Daniela Sacerdoti will also be sharing their stories and ideas with visitors.
Sounds of FILBo 2015
Words alone will not recreate this magic realist universe: the rhythms of various musicians will also give harmony to this multisensory experience.
Musical events will include the participation of songwriter, ukulele player and music journalist Sylvie Simmons (see across), Portuguese jazz and rock songwriter Afonso Cruz, Elvir Sastre, who gives musically accompanied poetry recitals and the famed Colombian group Aterciopelados, who will be presenting their book as well as their music.
From April 27 to 29, industry professionals will come together to talk about the challenges that face the industry today. Featuring international experts from various fields – from editing and proofreading, to design, layout and production – the forum will create a space to discuss ways to survive in what is a very challenging time for print media.
Guests will include Beatriz de Moura, founder of the publishing house Tusquets, Claudio López, editorial director at Penguin Random House Barcelona and Pep Carrió, one of Spain’s top illustrators and graphic designers.
7th conference of international journalism
Visitors will get the opportunity to learn a little more about García Márquez’s journalistic career, which he took on with as much vigour and dedication as he did with literature.
Gastronomy will be making a splash with live cooking demonstrations from the likes of Mexican chocolatier José Ramón Castillo, Argentine chef Juliana López May and the culinary creators behind Mini-Mal, Antonuela Ariza and Eduardo Martínez. There will of course be plenty of gastronomical offerings as well as the opportunity to take cooking classes with well-known chefs.
The art of family
One of the highlights of the fair is a space dedicated solely to children, with two pavilions set aside for their entertainment. Kids and kids at heart alike can enjoy concerts, readings and activities for the whole family from 10am until 6pm.
Carolina Sanín is author of Los niños, Yosoyu, Ponqué, and Todo en otra parte. She speaks to Felipe Torres about FILBo
“Gabriel García Márquez is definitely my favourite Colombian author. I recommend you read Ojos de perro azul, Gabriel García Márquez’s first book, a collection of short stories.
“As for the invited guest, I think it’s interesting to conceptualise Macondo as both an external and internal country. The homage to García Márquez, and the intention to get people to read his work is necessary.
“I hope that the people who go feel an impulse to read. I recommend people look at the program online, since there are many interesting activities going on and the fair is so big. I’d also recommend taking a look at the independent Colombian publishers’ stands. People should try to spend a good while there and try to see as much as possible.
“I have been to FILBo many times. It’s huge, and allows for many books that are usually invisible to the audience to become accessible. It’s an opportunity to discover books.”
Check out our full coverage of all the happenings at this years International Book Fair:
Filling FILBo with magic realism
By Alejandra Chipatecua & Felipe Torres