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October 22, 2014
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Argentina buckles up for Paris Book Fair

Before reaching the Paris Book Fair, Mafalda basked in the glow of an extremely popular exhibition hosted by Argentina’s Embassy in Paris.
Famed French expo’s guest of honour announces agenda of tributes, debates, cultural events

The celebrated Paris Book Fair opens its doors on March 21, with Argentina as guest of honour and leading figure of debates following a cringe-worthy local row between slighted writers and organization officials.

The latter yesterday announced Argentina’s agenda at the leading Parisian event, focusing on tributes to Julio Cortázar, Juan Gelman and Quino, as well as meetings with authors Ricardo Piglia and Diana Bellessi and a string of activities built around the notion of letters and publishing and fanning a wide range of topics from photography to music. As the Argentine authorities would have it, it’s meant to be a kaleidoscope of the country’s history and artistic output.

The Paris Book Fair, which boasts the attendance of some 1,200 publishing houses from 25 countries and 200,000 visitors, has chosen Argentina this year as guest of honour and readily invited a delegation of 30 authors which was later extended to a wider list of 46, following the embittered debate swerving over the ocean.

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will travel to Paris to join France’s Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault for the opening of the book fair on March 20.

Throughout the four days of the fair, Argentina’s 500 square-metre pavilion — designed by Rodolfo Paglieri who worked with an idea based on a Moebius loop — will host a series of 50 events. “The agenda proves the strength of our culture and reflects the expanding trend of the local cultural industries,” Culture Secretary Jorge Coscia said about the recently-announced series of round tables, lectures, conferences, book presentations, business meetings and concerts.

Since this year Argentina marks the 100th anniversary of Julio Cortázar’s birth, the Paris Book Fair will also benefit: there will be an exhibition of 15 previously unpublished photos by iconic photographer Sara Facio, while Miguel Rep will be doing one of his murals live. Cortázar will also be the topic of several meetings, one of which will bring together Roger Grenier, Noé Jitrik, Goloboff, Rosalba Campra, Julia Saltzmann and Sara Facio.

Late poet Juan Gelman will also be honoured in Paris by Abuelas of Plaza de Mayo leader Estela de Carlotto and authors Diana Bellessi, Horacio González, Jacques Ancet and Carlos Polimeni. Furthermore, Editions Caractères will present a billingual edition of Las cenizas y la luz / Milonga para Juan Gelman (Ashes and Light / Milonga for Juan Gelman), a poem by Ancet, who was the translator and a good friend of the late Argentine poet.

Argentina and the Paris Book Fair will also pay tribute to Quino at the 50th anniversary of Mafalda, with astonishing blowups of the most iconic comics strips featuring Quino’s extremely popular character. Cartoonist Miguel Rep will also conduct a public interview with Quino.

Some of the Argentines to hold conferences at the Porte de Versailles expo include authors Ricardo Piglia, Diana Bellessi, Inés Garland and Arnaldo Calveyra, as well as musicians Lidia Borda, with a show focused on Atahualpa Yupanqui’s work, and Raúl Barboza, both of whom will perform at the Grand Scène of the book fair.

Mempo Giardinelli, Guillermo Martínez, Piglia and Claudia Piñeiro will be debating the perks of being a writer, while Ricardo Forster, Jorge Alemán, Ernesto Laclau, Alain Rouquié and Coscia will discuss Latin America’s democracies.

The book fair will also host the presentation of the second and enriched edition of Diálogo con Borges, which expounds on the relationship between Borges and Victoria Ocampo. The writer’s widow María Kodama will attend the event, as well as the book’s editor Constance de Bartillat and French poet Odile Felgine.

On a lighter note, authors Piñeiro, Lucía Puenzo, Martínez and Marcelo Figueras will discuss the transformation of their novels into screenplays.

Herald staff with Télam

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