Maria Matienzo Puerto

The Pabellón Cuba is one of several Book Fair venues. Photo: Irina Echarry

Talking about the Havana International Book Fair is always a pleasure, at least for me.  I can explain, for example, that this year the event is spread out between the Casa de las Americas, the ALBA Center, Pavilion Cuba and the Cabaña colonial fortress.

Here I am providing people a written map describing where they can find some of the activities.

Casa de las Americas, located at the corner of G Street and the Malecon, is a historical center for events related not only to literature, but to Latin American culture in general.  Throughout the year this center hosts numerous events that attract international attention, among them is its awards ceremony of the same name.

The ALBA Center is a new addition to the Cuban panorama and is located on Linea Avenue at the corner of D Street.  And what goes on there?  Everything from theatrical presentations to Internet services for community intellectuals.  Although it still has some ground to cover to earn the prestige that other institutions have garnered, it has made itself known with the political thrusts and tones that accompany it.

Pabellón Cuba is a site that has always been one of my favorite places.  You can find it by walking down the incline of 23rd Avenue (“The Ramp”) toward the sea.  It’s situated in the Vedado neighborhood at the corner of N Street.  Although the aquarium that it integrated into it has never again contained fish, which I enjoyed so much when I was a little girl, a few years ago it again started containing books.  At this site during the fair, there are sometimes important presentations and concerts are held here at the closing of each day.

That leaves me with the Fortaleza de la Cabaña, which is on the east side of Havana Bay and the tunnel.  From it one can view the historical district of Old Havana, though this location itself is supposedly where the most important activities of the fair occur.

The difference is that this year it won’t be like that.  In a mummification process, the Cabaña (as it is known by Cubans), has increasingly more space for museums and less for events of the magnitude of the Book Fair.

A sad case

This is the same way they moved us out of the Palacio del Segundo Cabo, where the Cuban Book Institute was previously located – in the very heart of Old Havana.  It is a place loaded with history.  Now I’m sure what will happen to the Cabaña fortress.

But what can we do.  We are not even the owners of our own thoughts.

In any case, I am leaving with you this descriptive map.  I hope you’re able to put it to use and that you don’t get lost, which is what happened to me during the first four days of our fair.


Maria Matienzo

Maria Matienzo Puerto: I dreamed once that I was a butterfly who had come from Africa and discovered that I had been alive for thirty years. From that time on, I constructed my world while I was sleeping: I was born in a magic city like Havana; I dedicated myself to journalism; I wrote and edited books for children; I met to discuss art with wonderful people; I fell in love with a woman. Of course, there are certain points of coincidence with the reality of my waking life and it’s that I prefer the silence of reading and the pleasure of a good movie.

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