December 18, 2017

Row over list of invited authors still casting shadow on country’s presence at key publishing event

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Paris Book Fair opens today, starring Argentina

File photo of an exhibition hall at the Paris Book Fair.
File photo of an exhibition hall at the Paris Book Fair.
File photo of an exhibition hall at the Paris Book Fair.
The literary marathon of the Paris Book Fair kicks off today at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre. Over the following four days, more than 1,200 publishers and 4,500 authors are expected in Paris, while the book fair’s agenda boasts 500 lectures and meetings, 45 countries and 200,000 readers. Argentina attends this year as the guest of honour and intends to impress with a 500-square metre pavilion which is designed as a Moebius strip signifying the infinite possibilities of reading a book.
The high-profile event will be launched today by French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and Argentine President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner but the fair won’t open its doors to the public until tomorrow.
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of Julio Cortázar’s birth, the Paris Book Fair will also benefit: there will be an exhibition of 15 previously unpublished photos by iconic photographer Sara Facio, while Miguel Rep will be doing one of his murals live.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, some of which will bring together Roger Grenier, Noé Jitrik, Goloboff, Rosalba Campra, Julia Saltzmann and Sara Facio. According to industry statistics, Cortázar is Argentina’s top translated writer in the world, with French translations being the second sought-after.
After an embittered dispute around the list of Argentine invited to the Paris Book Fair, 44 authors, half male and half female, were included on the final draft. Leading Argentine author Ricardo Piglia withdrew at the last moment and won’t be attending the fair, while master of the bizarre Sergio Bizzio couldn’t travel due to health problems.
Argentina’s representatives in Paris include Laura Alcoba, Selva Almada, Leandro Ávalos Blacha, Diana Bellessi, Liliana Bodoc, Leopoldo Brizuela, Arnaldo Calveyra, Rosalba Campra, Jorge Consiglio, Pablo De Santis, Alicia Dujovne Ortiz, Mempo Giardinelli, Inés Garland, Fernanda García Lao, Martín Kohan, Guillermo Martínez, José Muñoz, Juan Sasturain, Guillermo Saccomanno, Claudia Piñeiro, among others.
The row surrounding the choice of authors to represent Argentine literature in Paris is still far from falling silent. In the latest instalment of the months-long dispute, Argentine-born writers currently living in France have complained to La Nación about the absence of certain authors from the Porte de Versailles event.
“I am deeply sorry about the absence of Edgardo Cozarinsky. He has lived in France for a number of years, has published a lot, it just seems incredible he won’t be here. I don’t want to address this issue further because both sides behaved with a certain lack of style, those who made the list and those who criticized it,” writer Alicia Dujovne Ortiz told La Nación. Dujovne Ortiz has been living in France for some 30 years and is a published author of more than 20 books.
“I hope the Paris Book Fair will be about literature and that the public will get to discover new authors instead of being dragged into a regrettable war of vanity because that would make me feel ashamed, as an Argentine. I truly hope this won’t cast shadows on the authors,” Dujovne Ortiz said.
Manejes author Laura Alcoba, who arrived in Paris when she was 10 after her mother decided to flee the military dictatorship, writes in French and has been published by leading label Gallimard.
“It’s such a pity and the truth is I was especially shocked by the missing names on that list. Let me give you three names: Rodrigo Fresán,  Eduardo Berti and Martín Caparrós. They have many books published, not just one, and have received warm praises here. Fresán is a giant of Argentine literature. Berti is an author of the highest quality. It’s an oversimplification to say they weren’t invited due to political biases, but their absence is still very strange,” Alcoba told La Nación.

Herald with online media
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