Colombia’s Hay Festival Cartagena de Indias Opens This Week

In News by Porter Anderson

The coming festival weekend in Colombia features music and visual art alongside literary events and debates in international current and political affairs.

At Hay Festival Cartagena de Indias 2016. Image: Joaquin Sarmiento, The Hay Festival

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Audacity and Hope’
The 12 annual Hay Festival Cartagena de Indias opens Thursday (January 26) with than 100 events and more than 180 artists and cultural personalities. The literary festival’s lineup includes three former Latin American presidents—Felipe Calderón, César Gaviria and Ricardo Lagos.

Expected to again draw more than 50,000 attendees, the festival reaches beyond its Colombian base through media partnerships with RCN TV and Radio; El Tiempol; Arcadia; and BBC Mundo.

Key literary personalities scheduled to appear include:

  • Libyan-British writer Hisham Matar;
  • Spain’s Fernando Aramburu and Luisge Martin;
  • Brazil’s Ana María Machado and Joao Pablo Cuenca;
  • Chile’s Alberto Fuguet;
  • French writer Maylis de Kerangal;
  • Cuban 2015 Princess of Asturias Award-winner Leonardo Padura;
  • American Jonathan Shaw; and
  • Switzerland’s Joël Dicker.

In terms of current affairs and political issues, BBC Mundo chief Hernando Álvarez chairs a discussion on journalism in a post-truth age. And Dutch activist Boris Dittrich discusses efforts at Human Rights Watch in defending rights of LGBTQ in light of Colombia’s recent legalization of same-sex marriage by the country’s constitutional court.

An onstage discussion in the 2016 Hay Festival Cartagena de Indias features, from left, Antonio Caballero, Maria Arana, and Juan Carlos Iragorri. Image Joaquin Sarmiento, The Hay Festival

‘Reimagining a Future’

In a prepared statement, the director of Hay Festival Americas, Cristina Fuentes, is quoted, saying, “Hay Festival Cartagena is a great melting pot of ideas and a celebration of great literature and the power of sharing conversations.

“It is very exiting to be in Colombia where they are making their own history, and reimagining a future with audacity and hope.”

Music again plays a role in the festival, with salsa star Yuri Buenaventura performing an opening concert and UK pianist James Rhodes talking about his autobiography Instrumental with a concert of his own.

Visual artists booked for the four-day festival include Argentine cartoonist Liniers and his Chilean colleague Alberto Montt in an illustrated stand-up act, alongside caricaturists Matador and Vladdo.

Political cartooning is highlighted by Bonil from Ecuador, Rayma Suprani from Venezuela and Ann Telnaes from the States. In addition, Peruvian painter Fernando de Szyslo will discuss his memoirs.

There’s a special concentration in history writing planned for this year’s festival, too, when British historians Simon Sebag Montefiore (The Romanovs: 1613-1918) and Andrea Wulf (The Invention of Nature: The Adventures of Alexander von Humboldt) discuss their latest books.

In science, British neurosurgeon Henry Marsh (Do No Harm), appears with Wellcome Book Prize 2016 winner Suzanne O’Sullivan (It’s All in Your Head) to talk about neuroscience.

For more information on Hay Festival Caragena de Indias, the festival site is here. The event runs through Sunday (January 29).


For more on the international network of Hay Festival events, see our interview with founder Peter Florence.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's 2019 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson also has worked as a senior producer, editor, and anchor with CNN.com, CNN International, and CNN USA, and as an arts critic (National Critics Institute) with The Village Voice and Dallas Times Herald.