Chile named guest of honor at Latin America’s biggest book fair

This year, the major event attracted close to 2,000 publishing groups from 43 different countries.

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Often referred to as the land of poets, Chile has a rich and colorful literary tradition that has been recognized throughout the world thanks to its two Nobel Prizes and a stack of other awards.

Now the South American nation will feature as the guest of honor at next year’s edition of Latin America’s largest literary event, the International Book Fair (FIL) of Guadalajara, Mexico

Every year since 1993, the fair’s organizers have invited a different country to attend the event as guest of honor, putting on a series of special performances and profiling their literary achievements throughout the the event.

The guest of honor at this year’s event, which was attended by 660,000 people and close to 2,000 publishing houses from over 40 countries, was Germany. The year 2012 will be the second time Chile has received this privileged position, which it also held in 1999.

Chilean Minister of Culture Luciano Cruz-Coke described the opportunity as a great honor for Chile, as he accepted next year’s invitation at the fair’s closing ceremony, according to El Mercurio.

“We accept this invitation with great responsibility, as is fitting for the most important event of its type in the Spanish-speaking world,” he said.

The minister also used his speech to pay tribute to some of Chile’s greatest literary figures, including acclaimed poet Nicanor Parra, who had won the 2011 Cervantes Prize just days earlier.

“We have reached the literary pinnacle with two winners of the Nobel Prize [for Literature], Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda, while other [Chilean] figures have made up the vanguard of literary creativity, including Vicente Huidobro and Nicanor Parra, whom I congratulate now.”

According to Cruz-Coke, Chile is currently experiencing a literary boom which is evident in the resurgence of the local publishing industry.

Among the positive signs are the emergence of new voices in Chilean narratives, the strength of local independent publishing houses and the appearance of new types of books, such as comics and graphic novels.

At the ceremony, Germany’s ambassador to Mexico, Edmund Duckwitz, praised Chile, saying his country enjoyed close ties of friendship and cooperation with the South American nation.

“We are certain that it will be a worthy successor for the next edition of this marvelous fair and festival,” he said.

The  2012 FIL will be held from November 24 to December 2, 2012.