Guadalajara’s Book Fair Opens With Cărtărescu’s Award

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The 36th edition of Mexico’s Guadalajara International Book Fair has opened with Sharjah as its guest of honor and a prize for Romanian writer Mircea Cărtărescu.

At the 2022 FIL Guadalajara Prize for Literature in Romance Languages presentation on November 26, from left, are author Sergio Ramirez; International Publishers Association president Bodour Al Qasimi; the new prize laureate Mircea Cărtărescu; University of Guadalajara rector Ricardo Villanueva; Sheikh Fahim Al Qasimi from Guest of Honor Sharjah; and Hugo Setzer, president of the Cámara Nacional de la Industria Editorial Mexicana (CANIEM) and former IPA president. Image: FIL Guadalajara, Natalie Fregoso

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
With Adam Critchley

See also: 
Guadalajara International Book Fair Prepares Weekend Opening
Springer Nature, Exhibiting at Guadalajara, Announces a Transformative Agreement in Mexico

Cărtărescu Honored With FIL Prize
As Publishing Perspectives readers will remember, the 2022 Guadalajara International Book Fair‘s recipient of the US$150,000 FIL Prize for Literature in Romance Languages this year isRomanian poet, essayist, and journalist Mircea Cărtărescu.

And the centerpiece of today’s (November 26) opening events at the show–locally known as the FIL for Feria Internacional del Libro–was the 11 a.m. formal presentation of that award in Expo Guadalajara’s Juan Rulfo Auditorium.

The “laudation,” or honorary speech about the winner, was given by the iconic Nicaraguan author Sergio Ramírez. (Our interview with Ramirez at the 2021 Guadalajara is here.)

Ramírez told the audience, “Mircea breathes the harsh perfume of fiction, … his body a pen, his blood as ink, his mind as a notebook.” After hearing such praise, Cărtărescu said Ramírez’ words had left him speechless and humbled, honored to have been spoken about in such terms by a writer he greatly admires.

In his own comments, Cărtărescu spoke of the freedom of expression that poetry and writing represent, and the influence that poetry has had on humanity since the times of Plato. He recalled that in The Republic, Plato wrote that poetry is capable of generating fear in the powerful by offering a glimpse of freedom.

“Mircea breathes the harsh perfume of fiction, … his body a pen, his blood as ink, his mind as a notebook.”Sergio Ramírez on Mircea Cărtărescu

“In the Platonic city-state,” Cărtărescu said, “the only poets admitted are the official ones, the laureates, who sing hymns and odes to the greatness of the city. Their score is strictly regulated, their aesthetic discourse is one and invariable. The free poet, however, with a plural discourse—that which imitates all the voices of the city—finds no place in the pre-established order. A poet is called before the rulers, who bow before him and recognize his genius, but beg him to leave the city, because he’s not ‘useful’ to it.”

Stressing that poetry is a courageous literature, Cărtărescu said, “Poetry is the dead cat of the consumerist, hedonistic, and mediatic world in which we live. One cannot imagine a more absent presence, a humbler grandeur, or a sweeter terror. No one seems to put a price on it, and yet there’s nothing more valuable,” he said, than poetry.

Speaking for the jury was Tulane University associate professor in French and Italian literature, Oana Sabo. She was joined on the jury panel by Lorena Amaro Castro from Chile; Marco Belpoliti from Italy; Javier Guerrero from Venezuela; Maria Eunice Moreira from Brazil; Antonio Sáez Delgado from Spain; and Laura Scarabelli from Italy.

We have more coverage planned ahead with Cărtărescu at Guadalajara.

This year’s public-facing fair builds on the smaller edition held in 2021, when world publishing’s book fairs were testing the possibilities as the still relatively new coronavirus COVID-19 vaccinations became available. That’s when the International Publishers Association (IPA) took its Prix Voltaire ceremony for Lebanon’s Rasha Al Ameer to Guadalajara.

This year, the program this year reports that as many as 800,000 attendees are expected, and opening day on Saturday also included the show’s traditional ribbon-cutting, with international dignitaries joining those of the fair itself and the leadership of the University of Guadalajara, which produces the FIL.

From left at the November 26 ribbon-cutting ceremony that opened the 2022 Guadalajara International Book Fair are FIL director Marisol Schulz; Enrique Graue Wiechers, rector of the National Autonomous University of Mexico; Ahmed Al Ameri, chair of Sharjah Book Authority and Sharjah Executive Council member; Raúl Padilla López, president of FIL Guadalajara; Hugo Setzer, president of the Cámara Nacional de la Industria Editorial Mexicana (CANIEM) and former International Publishers Association president; IPA president Bodour Al Qasimi; and Massimo D´Alema, the former prime minister of Italy. Image: FIL Guadalajara, Paula Vasquez

Guest of Honor Sharjah

Following the ribbon-cutting, Ahmed Al Ameri‘s Sharjah Book Authority hosted a VIP tour of the Sharjah pavilion, said by its designer, Weam Ibrahim, to be the largest in a series of major international fairs’ guest-of-honor appearances by the United Arab Emirates’ third state.

The stand—and we have more coverage coming this week—holds 21 panel discussions and is scheduled to produce 26 workshops during the show, which runs to December 4. Sharjah has arrived with a delegation said to comprise 150 writers and other creative workers, as well as officials.

Sharjah Book Authority’s Ahmed Al Ameri leads a tour of the Guest of Honor Sharjah pavilion at the 2022 Guadalajara International Book Fair, with FIL director Marisol Schulz, left, and Sharjah’s Bodour Al Qasimi, president of the International Publishers Association. Image: FIL Guadalajara, Paula Vasquez

In the course of the programming, it’s expected that dialogues and debates will be included with at least 30 Arab and Mexican authors and artists, whose focus will be key elements that connect the Arab culture with that of Mexico. Al Ameri says that these sessions are designed “to illuminate the history of relations between the Arab region and Mexico.”

In addition to events at the pavilion, FIL Forum events in the evenings are to include Arab performing artists including Emel Mathlouthi, a night of opera with Fatima Al Hashmi, Lorena Flores, the Higinio Ruvalcaba Orchestra, and guest musicians; Arqam Al Oubri, accompanied by the Escarabajo Blues Band; and the Heritage Institute Traditional Band of Sharjah.”

A film, Khorfakkan, written by author-emir Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, is also being given a screening at the FICG Cinema Library and the UDG Cinema Forum.

Later in the day today, the programming calls for the Sharjah pavilion to host a conversation titled “The Arabic Lexicon and Its Impact on the Spanish Language,” Jorge Alberto Perez speaking with Al Ameemi and Moisés Garduño García. And Muhammad Safi and Al Mosteghanemi are speaking in a session called “An Historical Dictionary of the Arabic Language.”

At the 2022 Guadalajara International Book Fair, attendees hear Cecilia Vicuña and Victoria Ramirez in the show’s Poetry Salon on the fair’s opening night. Image: FIL Guadalajara, Paula Vasquez

This is Publishing Perspectives’ 199th awards-related report in the 212 publication days since our 2022 operations began on January 3.

More from Publishing Perspectives on the Guadalajara International Book Fair is here, more on the Mexican publishing market is here, more on the International Publishers Association is here, more on Sharjah and the Sharjah Book Authority is here, more on publishing and book awards is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs is here

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the International Publishers Association.

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 International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.