Los Angeles Adds Glam to Guadalajara

In Feature Articles by Chad W. Post

By Chad W. Post

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Since launching the Guest of Honor program at the Guadalajara International Book Fair (FIL) in 1993, Guests of Honor at have included Colombia, Chile, Puerto Rico, Peru, Catalonia, Brazil, Italy, Quebec, and even New Mexico, but 2009 marks the first time that a city has been awarded this honor. This year’s fair, which runs from November 28 until December 6, promises to be the biggest and possibly glitziest yet, with Los Angeles taking center stage.

“As you know, Los Angeles has nearly one million legal Angelinos of Mexican descent so the bonds between Mexico and Los Angeles are extremely strong, both historically and culturally,” explains David Unger, FIL’s U.S. representative. “At the same time, as Mexican filmmakers have achieved international acclaim, there has been broadening links between the film industries in these two countries. It seemed quite natural to feature Los Angeles writers, publishers, artists, dramaturgs, composers and musicians and filmmakers in Guadalajara.”

la-as-guest-of-honorAs a whole, FIL has grown at a quick clip over the past few years, launching a Rights Center and adding more than 15,000 meters of exhibition space. In addition, this is the inaugural year of the Rights Exchange Program, through which eleven agents from Turkey, Romania, China, the U.S., France, Taiwan, Israel, and Poland will spend six days in Guadalajara learning about the Spanish-language book market and meeting with publishers from Argentina, Venezuela, Colombia, Spain, and Mexico.

“The rights center has only 85 tables, which is tiny compared with London and Frankfurt” admits Unger, “but what that means is the agents don’t have a meeting every half an hour and they have time to have those lateral conversations about what’s selling in other countries, the changes in publishing, that make book festivals so worthwhile. Plus, they can step out and actually see a play, a film, listen to some music or authors read.”

This year’s line-up of authors is, indeed impressive: Ray Bradbury, Jane Smiley, Susan Straight and Tim Robbins (who will be there with his new play based on Orwell’s 1984) will be there on behalf of Los Angeles, but in addition Orhan Pamuk, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Fuentes, Vladimir Sorokin, Rabih Alameddine, Thomas Stangl, and Aminatta Forna are some of the international authors that will be attending.

This year’s International Publishers and Professionals Forum, running from December 1-2, offers two days of trade talk focusing on “Publishing and selling books in view of technological change.” Headliners include some familiar names, such as Steve Wasserman, Managing Director, New York office of Kneerim & Williams at Fish & Richardson and Michael Smith, Executive Director of the International Digital Publishing Forum, John Warren, marketing director of Rand Corp, Luis Francisco Rodríguez, Executive Director of Spain’s Publidisa, and  Michael Vogelbacher of Germany’s Libreka Bookstore.

“There are some 350 events in all and since everything takes place in the same hall, you actually have a chance to get out and enjoy the authors, the music and the films,” says Unger, adding, “If you’ve never been to Guadalajara, you’ll find it’s unlike any other book fair in the world.”

VISIT: The Web site for the Guadalajara International Book Fair

SEE: The schedule for International Publishers and Professionals Forum

About the Author

Chad W. Post

Chad W. Post is the director of Open Letter Books, a press at the University of Rochester dedicated to publishing contemporary literature from around the world. In addition, he is the managing editor of Three Percent, a blog and review site that promotes literature in translation and is home to both the Translation Database and the Best Translated Book Awards. His articles and book reviews have appeared in a range of publications including The Believer, Publishing Perspectives, the Wall Street Journal culture blog, and Quarterly Conversation.