Without money, but with enthusiasm, the Book Fair begins this week

There’s no moneythe presidential litany is repeated among the organizers of the 48th Buenos Aires International Book Fair, which will begin this week when writer Liliana Heker reads the inaugural address. The president of the El Libro Foundation, Alejandro Vaccaro, already said it ten days ago: “Unfortunately, this edition is going to take place in a complex context,” in front of journalists. And yet, the enthusiasm remains intact. Even that of the Secretary of Culture of the Nation, Leonardo Cifelliwho decided to participate in the opening, despite the high chances of being booedjust as it happened Pablo Avelluto on two occasions, when he was the minister of the area in 2018 and 2019.

The president of the El Libro Foundation, Alejandro Vaccaro, and the director of the Fair, Ezequiel Martínez. Photo: Verónica Bellomo/ El Libro Foundation.

“The inauguration is attended by about a thousand people and we can’t cover their mouths“said Vaccaro, although he clarified that security measures would be guaranteed and that the Secretary of Culture had been informed of the situation, which is nothing other than the massive rejection from the sector to the policies of dismantling and jibarization of programs and items destined for the arts, literature and culture in general.

In that sense, furthermore, the Fair will be the scene of an act of reparation for journalists Cristina Mucciwhose program The seven fools was canceled by Public Television after 37 years of operation, and Osvaldo Quirogadriver another plot, which was also discontinued. “They have been great communicators and their programs were deactivated,” announced the president of the El Libro Foundation.

In this crisis scenario, Vaccaro recognized the participation of the main sponsors of the exhibition: Banco Nación, the Celulosa company, the Government of the City of Buenos Aires – “whose support is significant and encouraging,” he said – and the Clarín Groupwhich like every year will have its own space and an agenda of activities.

Tickets and other expenses

The Fair has been going on for years the most popular cultural event in the country. At the La Rural property, this year the exhibition offers an area of ​​more than 45,000 square meters to explore, which makes it the most crowded in the Spanish-speaking world. During its almost three weeks duration they visit it more than a million readers and more than twelve thousand book professionalsin addition to provincial public organizations, community spaces and the media.

The exhibition can be visited every day of the week starting Thursday, April 25: from Monday to Friday, it will be open from 2 to 10 p.m. while on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesday, May 1, it will operate from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. A special day will be Saturday, April 27: how the Night of the Fair is celebrated , the hours will be from 1:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m.

The value of the tickets, according to the organizers, increased as much as annual inflation, although in reality, the increase was greater. Visit it from Monday to Thursday (except Wednesday, May 1) It will cost 3,500 pesos per person compared to 800 pesos the previous year. That is, the “cheapest” ticket will suffer an increase of 337.5% compared to the 2023 value.

The same thing will happen weekends: each visitor who wishes to enter on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or holiday will have to pay 5,000 pesos per day compared to the 1,200 pesos it was worth a year ago. In this case, the increase will be 316.6%.

Book Fair in La Rural. Photos Emmanuel Fernández / Clarín Archive.

For its part, books also increased. If in April and May 2023, buying a new item required between 6,000 and 8,000 pesos, the 2024 wallet requires many more pesos. Just as an example, now in bookstores new items like hate weddingsby Florencia Bonelli, costs $24 thousand; Cora, by Jorge Fernández Díaz, $20 thousand; and The last actress, by Tamara Tenenbaum, $18 thousand. It is to be expected that there are promotions both from the publishers themselves and from the banks.

The Fair, in fact, will offer benefits For each entry: the visitor who buys a ticket (for any day) or pass (valid for three visits) will receive a checkbook of 4,000 pesos to use it in the attached libraries once the Fair ends, as detailed on the official website.

Besides, each entry will be accompanied by vouchers discount (or coupons) that can be used to purchase books at the Fair stands for the same amount paid upon entry. Tickets of 3,500 pesos will have 3 vouchers of 1,000 and one of 500 pesos. Tickets of 5,000 pesos and passes will have 5 vouchers of 1,000 pesos. Each voucher equivalent to 500 or 1,000 pesos can be used to cover up to 10% of the payment on purchases of 10,000 pesos or more than that amount. They are cumulative vouchers: For the purchase of a book for 20,000 pesos, 2,000 pesos can be deducted in two vouchers of 1,000.

Lydia Jorge. © CML| João BarataLydia Jorge. © CML| João Barata

The light of Lisbon

They say that the light of Lisbon It is different from all the others. And it is true for both climatic and poetic reasons and this year, visitors to the Fair will be able to discover it since the capital of Portugal is the Guest of Honor City and arrives with an immense program that will be deployed both within La Rural and outside, with a film series in the Leopoldo Lugones Room, a concert at the Usina del Arte and other performances at the stand and two exhibitions sponsored by the Saramago Foundation and the Fernando Pessoa House.

“The contemporary aspect of our culture was a guideline when thinking about this project. Another axis was female participation. Thus, we want to answer the question: what is done in Lisbon today? What is it that is written?”, anticipates the writer Carla Quevedocurator of the program offered by Lisbon at the Fair.

The entourage of more than twenty writers that will arrive from the other side of the Atlantic is headed by the narrator and essayist Lidia Jorge (Boliqueime, 1946) multi-award-winning author whose name cyclically sounds like a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

As the opening of the Fair coincides with the 50th commemoration of the Carnation Revolutionwhich put an end to almost half a century of dictatorship in 1974 and which Portugal will celebrate in style, this Thursday neither the mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas, nor its Secretary of Culture, Diogo Moura, will be present here, who will nevertheless arrive in the following days.

Elvira Sastre.Elvira Sastre.

In addition to Lídia Jorge, new and established authors They will arrive to seduce the reading public of Argentina. Among them we must not lose track of Francisco José Viegas, creator of fast-paced police films; the notable Bruno Vieira Amaralwith an uncomfortable work on the margins of the system; Isabel Stilwell, bestseller of historical novel; and the fascinating Isabela Figueiredowhose Colonial memoirs notebook (Libros del Asteroid) marked a before and after in Lisbon narrative. The list is just to begin.

Guests from abroad

There will be no Nobel or Cervantes prizes among guests from abroad nor other awards of the most celebrated in the world, but some of the foreign figures are conveners in Argentina. This is the case of the Spanish Elvira Sastre, which has a large readership here; the french novelist David Foenkinosthe Ecuadorian Monica Ojedathe Chilean Diamela Eltit and the famous German publisher Michi Strausfeldwho introduced Latin American and Spanish literature to his country.

The Colombian will also be in the game Daniel Ferreirawhat with Rebellion of the useless jobs got the Clarín Novel Award in Argentina; the peruvian Alina Gadea; the chilean poet Carmen Garcia; and the Peruvian Mario Montalbetti, who has a doctorate in Linguistics from MIT and professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.

From Chile it will come Andres Montero, writer and oral narrator; just like the Uruguayan Virginia Mortolawriter and psychoanalyst, along with her partner Mariella Nigro, poet, doctor in Law and Social Sciences. And two presences from Paraguay will be Sebastian Ocampos, writer, editor, teacher and cultural maker; and Rosa OliveiraPortuguese poet, essayist and university professor.


The program, which offers hundreds of activitieswill be available on the Fair’s website and the engines of the immense machinery that is the Book Fair will begin to work this Tuesday when they begin Professional Conferenceswhich bring together editors, booksellers, distributors, literary agents, illustrators, librarians, designers, translators and all the protagonists of the book value chain, both in Argentina and abroad.

It will be a unique year, without a doubt. Because there’s no money, it repeats and repeats. And because the Fair will continue to be, like every year, stage and platform on which to debate ideas. That’s what even the president of the Nation thinks, Javier Mileiwho will present his book Capitalism, socialism and the neoclassical trapon May 12, despite the fact that his Government removed the stand that historically had the Ministry of Culture, today the secretariat.

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