By Rogelio Manuel Díaz Moreno
HAVANA TIMES – Today the Cuba International Book Fair opens in this capital. This will be the 26th edition of the traditional event, awaited each year by the reading public and authors from many parts of the world.
The Havana portion of the Fair runs through Feb. 19th. Afterwards the event takes to road to cities and towns throughout the country. As usual the main venue is the San Carlos de la Cabaña fortress across Havana Bay.
The Fair is dedicated this year to the intellectual Armando Hart Dávalos, a former minister of culture. The role of a guest country of honor corresponds to Canada.
For those that can’t make it to the fortress, do not despair. The Fair will hold numerous activities in secondary venues in the Vedado district of the city such as the Dulce María Loynaz Center, the Casa del Alba Cultural and the Cuban Association of the United Nations. The Cuba Pavilion, the headquarters of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba and the University of Havana will also offer opportunities for cultural exchange and enrichment.
Other venues in Old Havana, are on Calle de Madera, in front of the Palace of the Captains General, and the House of Poetry (Muralla No. 63 between Oficios and Inquisitor Streets).
The program at the Cabaña fortress includes a colloquium dedicated to the life and work of the deceased Cuban ex-president, Fidel Castro. These sessions will take place in the Nicolas Guillen room, and the local press will not forget to cover them meticulously. The texts of the latest laws enacted in the country will be available in this room. Here will also be the traditional Encounter of Literary Publishers and Translators. Ireland, represented by important officials and writers, is planning a day of encounters on the 16th.
In general, all Cuban publishers try to have as many titles as possible printed by the book fair. All provincial publishing houses also take advantage and make the leap to Havana. In addition to Canada, Russia sends a large delegation, with outstanding literary and cultural figures. It cannot be denied that Moscow carefully cultivates its relations with Havana.
If your fondness for literature goes hand in hand with good eating, try to get an invitation to the activities of pavilion A-5, “Tasting the Word.” The Kitchen and Culture project awaits you with various activities. The spirit of Jose Lezama Lima, exemplary combination of both manifestations, will look on with pleasure.
If you arrive in time to La Cabaña, you can pick up the daily fair tabloid El Cañonazo, with the news of the previous day and the program of that day.
And, if you stumble upon a person, with a photo reporter credential, with a piece of sandwich in one hand and a pen and notepad in the other, running from one presentation room and to another, I apologize in advance. Be merciful to me, it is the spirit of the Fair!