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A country full of books

lectura librosCuba is set to become a huge literary hub once again. There are just a few days to go before the inauguration of Havana’s annual International Book Fair (FILH) – which begins on Thursday, February 11, and runs through February 21– one of the most popular events on the island.

The Fair, which is held at the Morro-Cabaña Historical Military Park, welcomes entire families, who come to enjoy memorable days in this beautiful setting, immersed in literature.

This year’s edition features Uruguay as guest country of honor – a land of literary greats such as Horacio Quiroga, Mario Benedetti, Eduardo Galeano and Juan Carlos Onetti – and with a special link to Cuba given the historic relationship of Cuban national hero, José Martí, who served as consul of Uruguay in New York.

With over 300 participants from 37 countries, the event promises to be a rich cultural exchange, proudly showcasing the best of universal literary tradition, and more recent publications.

Two Cuban authors will also be honored at the Fair: poet, journalist and essayist Lina de Feria, and writer, folklorist and essayist Rogelio Martínez Furé; both nominated for the 2015 National Prize for Literature, which was awarded to the latter. The event will provide an opportunity to reconnect with the writings of both, while discovering their latest work.

The Fair will also celebrate two anniversaries: the centenary of the birth of writer José Soler Puig, of Santiago de Cuba, who was of great influence across the continent and to whom various talks and book presentations will be dedicated; and the 130th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Cuba, which will see an international seminar with themed panels and keynote speeches held at the Casa de las Américas, from February 15-17.

The Fair will also see concerts, exhibitions, theater and dance performances and screenings of contemporary cinema. In addition, the FILH program includes an extraordinary meeting of the Ibero-American Publishers Group (GIE), with representatives from 24 countries; talks dedicated to honored authors such as José Martí and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, on the 400th anniversary of his death; as well as the Social Sciences and Environment; together with gatherings of librarians, translators, editors and publishers.

Prestigious Uruguayan artists, singer Malena Muyala and percussionist Daniel “Tatita” Márquez, who specialize in candombe (an Afro-Uruguayan music and dance), will offer a concert on the opening day of the event, while the following days will see varied musical offerings from across the region, including milonga, tango and other typical rhythms.

Visits by artists such as guitarist and singer Fernando Cabrera and folksinger Daniel Viglieti, as well as young actors Sergio Blanco, Gabriel Calderón, Santiago Sanguinetti and María Dodera, form part of the extensive Uruguayan presence in Havana as part of the FILH artistic program, which is just around the corner.


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