By David Unger
There are many books fairs that a cater to Spanish-speaking publishers in Latin America, but none bigger than the Guadalajara International Book Fair, which takes place in November each year. Together with the Buenos Aires International Book Fair, which takes place in the spring, you have the two major industry events for Spanish-speaking publishers in the Western Hemisphere.
Every year some 700 U.S. and Canadian book professionals—agents, editors, librarians, booksellers, distributors, translators and writers — visit the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL). For this 26th edition, which is scheduled from November 24-December 2 (professional days: November 26-28), there are some interesting developments. Here are just a few:
B to B
As usual, there will be over 125 American Library Association-member librarians, hailing from as far away as New York, Portland, Denver and Chicago, to buy books at FIL for their growing Latin American immigrant communities. Baker & Taylor, Brodart, Bookmasters and Lectorum will be sending large staffs to help these Latin American development librarians make their selections and ensure the delivery of titles to their libraries. Indeed, FIL is increasingly one stop shopping for them since there are books available not only from the great Argentine, Brazilian and Colombian publishers, but an ample supply of new titles from Central American and the Caribbean as well as books from recession-driven Spain and other smaller South American countries.
In addition to the usual list of exhibitors from the U.S. (Random House, Harper Collins, Perseus, Independent Publishers Group, Parragon, Macmillan, Ingram and Capstone), there are huge collectives from Germany, France, Korea and China in the exhibit area. In fact, nearly 40 countries exhibit at FIL, making the possibility of cross-language rights and distribution sales all the more possible.
In the Rights Center this year, sixteen countries are represented and 26 of the 105 tables have been taken by agents and publishers from the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Nine rights representatives will be taking part in FIL’s Rights Exchange Fellowship Program, now in its 4th year, with Elisabeth Kerr (W.W. Norton) and Jesse Coleman (Farrar, Straus and Giroux from the U.S. Fellows will meet with large and with small independent publishers in order to expand their knowledge of the leading Latin American authors as well as attend readings. Rights agents from Sitala Publishing (Finland), Fandango and Isbn Edizioni (Italy), Belfond (France), Gryphus (Brazil), Suhrkamp (Germany), and Athenaeum Polak & Van Gennep (Belgium) will also be taking part in the Rights Exchange Program
This year’s 11th International Publishers and Professionals Forum is focusing on Independent Publishing and Bookstores. Twenty speakers will be presenting, among them Oren Teicher (Executive Director, American Booksellers Association), Sarah McNally (CEO, McNally Jackson Bookstore) and Johnny Temple (Publisher, Akashic Books). Their broad experience in the U.S. will be of interest to Latin Americans as digital publishing begins to make inroads in Latin America and Spain.
The Cultural Side
For the second time, Chile will be the Guest of Honor at FIL. In addition to the presence of Chile’s most famous artists, dancers and musicians, writers of the caliber of Raúl Zurita, Óscar Hahn, Diamela Eltit, Alberto Fuguet, and Jorge Edwards will be taking part in readings and panels. Chile is the birthplace of international writers Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, Antonio Skarmeta and José Donoso (all amply translated into English) and the host country will be bringing close to 20,000 books by Chilean authors for the nearly 700,000 FIL attendees. Nicanor Parra, Premio Cervantes winner and considered by many to be the greatest living Latin American poet, will be featured in an exhibit that includes a number of surprising objects he created and christened as ‘artifacts,’ and which constitute the most recent incarnation of his anti-poetry.
As the FIL has transforms itself into a huge and dynamic cultural festival (there are hundreds of book presentations), international writers play an increasingly large role at the book fair. Ingo Schultze (Germany), Janne Teller (Denmark) and Anja Snellman (Finland) are among the ten writers being featured in the Festival of European Literature Authors at FIL and will have bilingual readings. Not to be outdone, Brazil is bringing 20 of its most notable young writers, including Marçal Aquino and Adriana Lisboa, also to take part in bilingual readings
Peruvian writer Alfredo Bryce Echenique was awarded the 2012 FIL Literary Award in Romance Languages (worth $150,000) for lifetime achievement. Born in 1939, Mr. Echenique is the author of two novels available in the English language: A World For Julius, and Tarzan’s Tonsillitis: A Novel. He is considered an “extraordinary chronicler of life as well as of the literary and political explorations of Latin Americans of his generation. He [is a writer who] explores subjects that touch on illness, happiness, love and sadness, and is equally proficient in writing short stories and novels.”
And last month, Mexico’s CONACULTA (part of the Ministry of Culture) announced the new Tomás Segovia Translation Prize. It will be presented at FIL to a translator of works from another language into Spanish and carry a $100,000 stipend. In 2013, a translator from Spanish into a foreign tongue will be recognized.
For business or pleasure, Guadalajara is the place to be in late November.