The Cuba Book Fair in Pinar del Rio
By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – Every year, with the exception of the COVID-19 breakout, the Havana Book Festival moves to the provinces.
Pinar del Rio just had theirs. Over that week, I walked down Marti Street, the city’s main street where stands were found and I was able to verify that almost nobody was interested in buying a book.
As always, children’s books sparked some interest in a country where toys are few and far between and I guess these books with drawings, colors and short stories have become a fun way for children to spend their time.
On Sunday, I had to go to one of the Fair’s spaces, as a guest writer to promote my novelette “Delirios”, published by Loynaz Publishers in 2019.
I must say that I wasn’t invited for being a renowned literary author, nor do I form part of this artistic world that gets people without much talent into privileged spaces within out national culture.
I’m a kind of lone wolf who is invited because I’m lucky to have the real friendship of two of the best poets and storytellers in the province and country, who have made me a part of their cultural spaces since 2019 – in the absence of these during the pandemic – to help give me visibility, promote my work and as you’d expect, help me get a symbolic cheque, but it’s never enough for a writer who wants to make a living as a creator.
I promoted “Delirios” and also my storybook called “Me declaro inocente”, published by the Primigenios Publishing House in 2021. I also read my story “Como un perro”, which won a prize during a recent literary competition, and I spoke and answered questions about my writing career.
All of this in a space where turnout wasn’t over 20 people, which proves that interest for Literature isn’t exactly in good health, here or anywhere else in the world, during this time of immediate and primitive entertainment, led by Netflix series, YouTube channels, TikTok and social media.
I could also see stands of empty books, with hundreds or thousands of people in front of improvised small stores just a few meters away, so they could buy cold cuts, junk food, exotic fruit and other foods that have reappeared, all of them costing an arm and leg by the way. But above all else, there was that cheap background reggaeton booming, a lot of reggaeton.
That’s why book fairs of this nature are doomed to fail, even though official propaganda says otherwise.
In conclusion, it was a fair like any other, where books – the fake star of these events – was cast to the back of our collective consciousness, like it always has.