Ten years ago, Medellín decided to turn culture into a celebration. While there had been previous unsuccessful attempts to bring together citizens of all social, economic, and cultural backgrounds, they were left in the past. Hosting a festival of books would mean a return to the public space and announcing that the streets belong to us all. The new event dedicated to reading would place young readers front and center, with the city investing its best efforts to motivate children and adolescents from local educational institutions.
The challenge of designing a Festival of Books and Culture that would reach the hearts of the residents of Medellín and the entire region of Antioquia has been met, and now we near the ten-year anniversary of the Festival and look back on the memories it has given us.
2016 marks a milestone year of the short history of the Festival that, as is a tradition, will be developed from 9th to 18th September through a central theme that ties all of the activities together. This year, it is the theme of New Worlds that will accompany us in the 45 afternoon lectures, in the 2,500 workshops to promote reading, in the 59 events held by our partner organizations, in the 110 book launches, and in the 62 concerts and artistic presentations. To think of New Worlds is an invitation to dream beyond the reality we perceive with our eyes. It is to invoke imagination and fantasy; it is to propose a better way of living. And there is no better vehicle to arrive at those New Worlds than books.
On September 9, 2016, the curtain will rise to reveal all that we have prepared to commemorate the first ten years of the Festival. This year the new Independent Publishers Hall will be open, where readers will enjoy the opportunity to become acquainted with highly original literary works that previously were little known in the country. We will also be honored by the presence of this year’s guest city. We have invited Medellín, but the Medellín that is far away and remote: the Medellín located in the region of Extremadura, Spain. In addition, we will present the first León de Greiff Literary Merit Award to Venezuelan poet Juan Calzadilla, who will attend the awards ceremony.
Of course, our most popular activities and spaces will be back again this year: Alive Reading Garden, the pavilions—New Reads, Children’s and Young Adult Literature, and Ibero-American University Press Books—exhibitions for book sales, dining areas, and a diverse artistic program.
And as if that were not enough, a large group of authors arriving from twenty countries will visit us, go to schools, and talk to the public that turns out for the ten days of the Festival in mass. This effort of the Medellín City Hall, in partnership with the Fundación Taller de Letras Jordi Sierra i Fabra, is sure to result in happiness reflected on the faces and spirits of the people of Medellín.
Note: The Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia Press is also part of the Festival of Books and Culture. Their latest publishing releases will be at The Tunnel in the Ibero-American University Press Books Pavilion and at the Colombian University Presses Association (ASEUC, in spanish) stand A7.