A Date with Books in Havana

A Date with Books in Havana


By: Ilsa Rodríguez

Once a bulwark against pirate attacks and witness to bloody combat, the Havana Fortress of San Carlos de la Cabaña yet again opens its arms to Cuba’s major publishing event, the International Book Fair. With the theme: “To Read Is To Grow”, this annual event is now celebrating its 20th edition. From February 10 through 20, the military complex built by Spain in 1774 at the mouth of Havana Bay to defend the city, along with the San Salvador de La Punta Fortress and the Real Fuerza Castle, will bring together authors, publishers and distributors from all over the world. For the duration of the Fair, they are daily joined by thousands of readers looking for the latest in Cuban and world literature.

Book sales and exhibitions are combined with artistic presentations, colloquiums, meetings, conferences and many other activities enjoyed by both specialists and the knowledge-seeking public.

This 20th edition of the Fair will pay homage to the bicentennial of Latin American Independence, the 220 years of the Haitian Revolution and the first declaration of the abolition of slavery. It will also honour Cuban writers Jaime Sarusky, winner of the 2004 National Literature Award, and Fernando Martínez Heredia, 2006 National Social Sciences Award holder.

Other tributes will be paid to the peoples of Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Venezuela, all members of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA in Spanish).

Conceived as a space for dialogue between the literatures of Latin America and Europe and other cultures usually participating in the event; after its presentation in the capital, the book fair extends throughout Cuba until March. Last year the event was attended by two million people with some 900,000 books sold.