Last updateMon, 08 Dec 2014 1pm

FIL 2014: Humongous literary fair set to envelop Guadalajara

More than 650 authors from 32 countries are due to attend the 28th International Book Fair (FIL) at the Expo Guadalajara from Saturday, November 29 to Sunday, December 7.

The world’s second-largest literature festival after Germany’s Frankfurter Buchmesse, the FIL is unlike most other book fairs, being aimed at both professionals and the general public.

The 2014 fair is expected to draw more than 700,000 visitors, around 20,000 book professionals and 200 literary agents, along with representatives of 1,935 publishing houses from 43 countries.

As well as 530 book presentations, there will be dozens of special events for librarians, editors, journalists, translators, illustrators, reading promoters and e-book publishers.

Rights agents will be busy throughout the fair, not only buying and selling rights, but firming up acquisitions, distribution contracts and the signing of new authors.

But the FIL is about more than just books.  A profusion of ancillary conferences, forums and workshops cover hot-button issues such as biodiversity, gender violence, journalism, humanism, tourism, migration, language teaching and cultural policy.

Children and young adults are well catered for with dozens of special storytelling readings and activities. This year’s  FIL Niños will turn the world upside down with a program inspired by British literary nonsense. Eighteen workshops will be held, based on the works of Julio Cortázar, Franz Kafka, Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll and María Elena Walsh.

A lot of the media attention at the FIL focuses on the parade of celebrity authors showcased by publishing houses.  

Among authors confirmed for this year’s event are Brazil’s Nélida Piñón, French economist Thomas Piketty, Nicaraguan poets Gioconda Belli and Ernesto Cardenal, U.S. author of popular fiction John Katzenbach, Welsh thriller writer Ken Folett, Talking Heads frontman David Byrne and, from Mexico, Fernando del Paso, Elena Poniatowska, Margo Glantz, Ruy Pérez Tamayo and Enrique Krauze.

Receiving this year’s prestigious annual Literary Award in Romantic Languages, plus 150,000 dollars in prize money, will be Italy’s Claudio Magris. (The award is presented at the opening ceremony on November 29.)

An author of narratives, essays and critical studies, Magris is regarded as one of the most important writers in contemporary European literature. His writing interweaves meticulous reflection on literature, history, arts and cultures with autobiographical and fictional narratives. His works have been translated into more than 20 languages.

In addition, FIL 2014 will celebrate the rich cultural patrimony of its guest of honor, Argentina, whose delegation includes a slew of writers and academics, as well as some of the country’s most vibrant exponents of music, visual arts, film and theater.

Among the the highlights from Argentina’s diverse program are tributes to acclaimed authors Julio Cortázar, Adolfo Bioy Casares and Juan Gelman, as well as the participation of Estela de Carlotto and Pilar Calveiro in the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo Chair, through a roundtable titled “Human Rights Today.” In total, more than 60 Argentinean writers and academics will participate in 40 roundtables, conferences and poetry recitals.

The FIL always strives to be at the cutting edge of the publishing industry.  This year, six additional e-book publishers have confirmed their presence and books in braille will be available, organizers say.  New professional activities include an International Editorial Design Forum and a workshop on the creation of eBooks.

FIL is not just a marketplace for book professionals to seal deals and publishers to launch new Spanish-language titles.   This year’s exhibition and public book sales area will cover more than 34,000 square meters and non-Spanish speakers will find hundreds of titles in English.

Also on sale will be bilingual children’s books from all over the American continent – great Christmas gifts for grandchildren.

This year, the tercentenary of the Real Academia Española will be celebrated with representation from the 21 language academies. In addition to those in Ibero-America, they will include the Philippine Academy of the Spanish Language and the North American Academy of the Spanish Language.

Music is also a traditional part of the FIL, with free nightly performances in the esplanade of Expo Guadalajara, known as the Foro FIL. (See more information in next week’s Reporter). 

The FIL takes place at Expo Guadalajara (Av. Mariano Otero 1499, at Av. Las Rosas, five blocks from Plaza del Sol). It is open to the public on November 29 and 30, and from December 4 to 7, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and December 1 and 2, from 5-9 p.m. Cost of entry is 20 pesos.

The FIL is a massive event with hundreds of different activities going on at once – far too many to include in a single article. Those who seek more information on this literary jamboree are advised to go to www.fil.com.mx for more information in English or Spanish. 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.