Soon Havana will be immersed in literature. In just three months time, February 11-21, 2016, the 25th International Book Fair will be held, this year dedicated to the Eastern Republic of Uruguay and authors Lina de Feria and Rogelio Martínez Furé.
Rodolfo Nin Novoa, Foreign Minister of Uruguay, and Sergio Mautone, National Director of Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Education, were in Havana to coordinate preparations prior to the event, heading a large Uruguayan delegation.
Edel Morales, vice president of international relations of the Cuban Book Institute (ICL), noted that so far they are working with 34 countries and have established contacts with some 250 intellectuals. Nin Novoa confirmed the presence of Uruguayan President Tabaré Vásquez at the event, and noted the decision made by the country’s Foreign Ministry to republish the letters and documents of José Martí addressed to the Republic of Uruguay, when he served as consul of the country in New York. “That the Cuban hero was a representative of a country such as ours, for us is a source of ongoing pride,” he said, adding “In a world of so much material interest, Martí’s detachment was simply great. This letter is a love song by an American for an American homeland that he considered his own.”
Mautone offered his impressions on the significance that being guest of honor holds for Uruguay, recalling, “At the time of the dictatorship, Cuba was a small light at the end of the road.” He also noted that Uruguay is committed to representing the very best of its culture, with greats such as Mario Benedetti and Eduardo Galeano, just to mention a couple, together with literature from new generations. “We still have a big challenge ahead, to ensure the success of this Uruguayan presence within the success that is the Havana fair,” he added.
Zuleica Romay Guerra, ICL president, assured that the fair is a wonderful opportunity to settle the debt we owe to Uruguayan contemporary literature, since while many Uruguayan classics have been published here, the country’s contemporary literature has been overlooked. Romay Guerra, also director of the event organizing committee, highlighted the cultural and literary program that is already being prepared.
“I am receiving something I think I do not deserve and that it appears I deserve, and that means situating myself among very important intellectuals,” De Feria expressed during her words of thanks for being honored at the fair. Martínez Furé, who considers himself a defender of the spoken word, a cimarrón of words and a cloner of identities, tells us that an insatiable hunger for universes stirs him. “The ashé of the word turns me into the living word,” he stated in thanks for the tribute.
The next edition of the fair will also pay tribute to the writer José Soler Puig, during his centenary of his birth; the 130th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Cuba, and the 60th anniversary of the landing of the Granma yacht.