Colombia Kicks Off Hay’s 2019 International Festivals

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In its 14th year at Cartagena, the Hay Festival brings its mix of literary work and current events to Colombia in January and February.

At Cartagena’s Hay Festival. Image: Hay, Joaquín Sarmiento

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

A Three-City Series of Events
Colombia is thrice blessed by the organizers of the international Hay Festival series of events, with a set of three programs that run January 25 and 26 in Jerico, then January 30 to February 2 in Medellin, and overlapping with the “big” festival running January 31 to February 3 in Cartagena.

With some 130 speakers in 150 events over four days, the 14th year of the programming in Cartagena is led by one of the world’s most ubiquitous and popular author-speakers on the world’s literary stages today, the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who spoke at the opening last month of the Frankfurter Buchmesse in its new Frankfurt Pavilion.

Adichie at Cartagena will reflect on the relationship between journalism and fiction, in a talk about the global South, from Gabriel García Márquez to today’s literary heroes.

Attracting more than 50,000 people, the Cartagena festival’s reach takes in a lot of Latin America, not least because of its partnerships with RCN TV and Radio, El Pais, El Tiempo, Arcadia and an international collaboration with BBC Mundo.

Programming at Cartagena for 2019

At Cartagena’s Hay Festival. Image: Hay, Joaquín Sarmiento

In terms of programming announced for the Cartagena fair, some highlights:

  • Writers will debate “some of the biggest issues of our time,”  accorsing to media messaging, with those speaking including Diamela Eltit, Patricia Lara and Laura Restrepo on fiction as a tool of dissent; Brigitte Baptiste, Lydia Cacho, Diamela Eltit, Karmele Jaio, Philippe Sands and Morten Strøksnes on the impact of #MeToo; Métis writer Cherie Dimaline with Brazilian-Canadian journalist Ingrid Bejerman to talk indigenous languages, and sociologist and writer Azriel Bibliowicz talks to writers Santiago Gamboa and Esteban Carlos Mejía about narrating origins.
  • Poetry will be focused around the first Hay Festival Cartagena Poetry Gala with Piedad Bonnett, Mircea Cartarescu, Karmele Jaio, Tamara Kamenszain, Winston Morales Chavarro, Ioana Nicolaie, and Maria do Rosário Pedreira.
  • The relationship between words and pictures is a topic to be taken up by Paula Bonet, Juan Gedovius and Keco Olano on the art of illustration, while author Mario Mendoza will talk to Colombian illustrator Keco Olano about the reinvention of his 2002 novel Satanás as a graphic novel.
  • Global affairs hold a lot of stage at the January-February festival, featuring Bianca Jagger, Gustavo Gorriti, and Luz Mely Reyes on Latin America’s migration crisis; colonel and expert strategist Pedro Baños talks geopolitics; economist Deirdre McCloskey on “bourgeois equality”; historian Diana Uribe on the geopolitical present and future; Enrique Santos Calderón with his first-hand perspective on the peace process during the government of his brother, Juan Manuel Santos; and US academic Sarah Churchwell (Behold, America), French-British lawyer Philippe Sands (East West Street), and director general of the New York Times Mark Thompson (Enough Said) look at globalization in crisis.
Tickets for the Cartagena festival are to go on sale on December 7.

At Cartagena’s Hay Festival. Image: Hay, Daniel Mordzinski

2019 Dates in International Hay Festival Events
  • Jerico, Colombia (January 25, 26)
  • Medellín, Colombia (January 30 to February 2)
  • Cartagena de Indias, Colombia (January 31 to February 3)
  • Wales (May 23 to June 2)
  • Querétaro, Mexico (September)
  • Dallas, USA (September)
  • Segovia, Spain (September)
  • Santiago, Chile (November)
  • Ayacucho, Peru (November)
  • Arequipa, Peru (November)

At Cartagena’s Hay Festival. Image: Hay, Daniel Mordzinski

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson 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 has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.

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