Entertainment and Learning Options at the Cuba Book Fair

Irina Echarry

HAVANA TIMES — One hears a broad range of comments while walking around Havana’s La Cabaña fortress, the main venue of Cuba’s International Book Fair. Some say that a number of the books announced will not be sold at the fair and that not even a few copies will be made available at their launch. The problem has to do with paper shortages and the poor state of printers, two factors that conspire against the event. That said, there are many options for the public at this year’s date with literature.

To learn something about the work of Cuban authors Ana Lidia Vega Serova, Carmen Hernandez, Maria Elena Llana and Marilyn Bobes, make your way to the Alejo Carpentier Hall on February 16 at noon. A series of male authors will take the stage one hour later. Eduardo del Llano’s Bonsai will be among the books presented. At around 10 in the morning, a homage to Brazilian educator Paulo Freire will take place at the Portuondo Hall, where a panel discussion titled “A Glance at Participative Films From the Perspective of Popular Education.”

A 3-day colloquium titled “Cervantes’ Voyages Through Latin America and the Caribbean” will be held at the University steps located at the intersection of San Lazaro and L streets. Those interested in Don Quixote will surely want to take part in the lecture titled “Don Quixote: 400 Years Hence” and the panel “Don Quixote in Latin American History and Philosophy,” to be held in the morning of Monday, February 16 and to see the participation of renowned Cuban professors, historians and philosophers.

The homage to Freire will continue on the 17th at the Casa de las Americas, located on 3ra and G streets, Vedado. The morning will open with the panel “Popular Education in 2015: A Glance from the Perspective of Paulo Freire.” Two and a half hours later, the Viajero theater group will treat us to the performance titled “Talking with Paulo Freire.” A multimedia titled “The Biography of Paulo Freire” will be presented at 12:30 pm.

The Asia House and Museum located on 111 Mercaderes street, between Obispo and Obrapia, Old Havana, has prepared a number of activities in honor of the Republic of India, the guest country this year. At 4 pm on the 17th, for instance, it will open an exhibition that gathers paintings, drawings, collages, photographs and the pages of a travel diary, titled “India: The Conceptual Vernacular in the Work of Leandro Soto.”

On Wednesday, February 18th, Teresita Hernandez’ lecture, titled “India’s Classic Dance Traditions,” will surely draw a large audience. At the conclusion of the lecture, the documentary When the Gods Dance will be screened. The following day, Eduardo Pimentel, Chair of the Cuban Yoga Association, will offer a talk titled “Yoga in Cuba: History and Significance” at 2:30 pm. At 5 pm, Spain’s Veronica Aranda will speak about “The Indian Sub-Continent in Contemporary Spanish Poetry.”

But let us head back to La Cabaña. Lovers of Cuban painter Zaida del Rio’s work will be able to enjoy the exhibition “Shiva’s Cosmic Dance” (inspired by Indian culture, dance, cosmogonies and costumes), in the Nicolas Guillen hall.

The Ediciones Cubanas publishing house will launch Addrell Herrpinark Gutierrez’ book Havana’s 1950 Cabarets at 1 pm on Wednesday, February 18. At 4 pm that day, it will hold an interesting panel discussion titled “A Look at the Economy from an Emancipatory Perspective,” which will see the participation of Yohanka Leon, Carla Lopez, Yoel Suarez and Amos Lopez.

Those interested in hearing about the latest developments in connection with the disappearance of the 43 student protesters in Mexico should head to the Alejo Carpentier Hall at noon on February 19. There, The Brigade for Free Reading of the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation will launch the book “Ayotzinapa, State Crime,” written by several authors.

Several Cuban poets and writers will offer lectures on different literary personalities (including Aime Cesaire, Marina Svietaieva, Eliseo Diego, Victor Hugo and the Irish poet Seamus Heany) at 9 am that same day in the Ruben Martinez Villena Hall, at the Association of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC) located at the intersection of 17 and H streets, Vedado.

A presentation by writer and researcher Jorge Fornet, titled “71: Anatomy of a Crisis”, to be offered at the University of Havana, will be another interesting option that day.

At 1 pm, film critic Frank Padron’s book Being Different. Cinema and Sexual Diversity will be launched at the Dulce Maria Loynaz Cultural Center (located on 19 and E streets, Vedado). The book, with a prologue by Cuban poet Victor Fowler, is made up of essays written at different points in time, dealing with the issue of sexual diversity in film. It also gathers a number of the experiences of the Diferente Cinema Club, a film event that will begin to be held at the La Rampa movie theater this year.

Jorge Mario Sanchez, Antonio Aja, Carlos Alzugaray and Rafael Hernandez will take part in a panel discussion about US – Cuba relations at the Jose Lezama Lima Hall in La Cabaña on February 20. Issue number 80 of Cuba’s Temas journal will then be launched.

Two Havana Times contributors will enjoy a special moment at this same venue two hours later, with the presentation of Osmel Almaguer’s poetry compilation La Pendiente (at 11 am) and Yusimi Rodriguez’ short story anthology The Cuban Dream at noon.

A rare and used book auction will be held at the Cuban Pavilion in Vedado at 2 pm on the 21st.

The UN Cuban Association is offering a broad range of digital materials to anyone interested at its pavilion at La Cabaña and its headquarters at 25 and J, Vedado.

Another important venue at La Cabaña is the Permanent Contemporary Argentinian Thought Stand. For two years, it has been offering a book donation service. You need only fill out a slip requesting the five books you wishes to have. The selection is made on the basis of the books on display, most of which are philosophy, sociology and gender studies and essays reflecting on power, consumerism and other issues. Anyone may benefit from this service at the conclusion of the fair. This year, the mechanism has changed: one still needs to fill out a slip, but there is a daily draw as well – so you should definitely try your luck, it’s certainly worth it. In its efforts to encourage reading, the stand also offers many digital books, so, don’t forget to take your USB drive.

To conclude, below is the program for the three much-awaited books by Cuban author Pedro Juan Gutierrez. All launches will take place at La Cabaña.

Monday, February 16: El insaciable hombre araña (“The Insatiable Spider Man”), Alejo Carpentier Hall, 1:00 pm

Wednesday, February 18: El sendero de las fieras (“The Path of Beasts”), Lezama Hall, 11:00 am

Friday, February 20: Viejo loco (“Crazy Old Man”), Lezama Lima Hall, 1:00 pm


One thought on “Entertainment and Learning Options at the Cuba Book Fair

  • It’s great to hear that two Havana Times contributors will be presenting their work at the book fair. Also, I am excited to hear there are new books by Pedro Juan Gutierrez being launched. I have read “The Insatiable Spider Man”, but not the other two titles. Hopefully, they will be available in English soon?

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