Chilean literature takes center stage at International Book Fair

Chile was guest of honor at Italy’s most important book festival, which welcomed nearly 300,000 visitors this year.

Chile shared its colorful literary history at the Turin International Book Fair in Italy earlier this month, taking center stage as the event’s special guest of honor.

Now in its 26th year, the Turin International Book Fair is the largest book fair in Italy and one of Europe’s most important literary events. Around 300,000 visitors attended this year’s event, which featured more than 1,000 exhibits and 2,500 media professionals. For five days in mid-May, writers, publishers, and students from around the world converged on the fair for a variety of conferences, forums, and book presentations.

As guests of honor, a delegation of 15 Chilean writers attended the event, including Arturo Fontaine, Alejandro Zambra, Roberto Brodsky, Raúl Zurita, Diego Muñoz Valenzuela, Lina Meruane, María José Viera-Gallo, Jorge Edwards, Roberto Ampuero, Elicura Chihuailaf, Oscar Hahn, Luis Sepúlveda, Oscar Bustamante, and Pablo Simonetti.

The fair also honored the late Roberto Bolaño, author of the acclaimed novels 2666 and Los Detectives Salvajes (The Savage Detectives), with a special “Night of Bolaño” event. “Night of Bolaño” featured panel discussions, readings, and lectures related to Chile’s famous author, in addition to a special screening of the highly-anticipated film Il Futuro (The Future), a movie based on Bolaño’s book Una novelita lumpen (A Lumpen Novella). Directed by Chilean filmmaker Alicia Scherson, Il Futuro has received critical acclaim on the international film festival circuit and opens in theaters in Chile on June 6.

The Festival was also a kickoff point for celebrations surrounding the 200th anniversary of Chile’s National Library. In honor of the historic library’s bicentennial, fair-goers could explore a sample of books, maps, and photographs related to Italian immigration to Chile.

In addition, the Pablo Neruda Foundation exhibited reproductions of “The Capri Albums” at the festival. This series of photographs, documents, and letters recreate Neruda and Matilde Urrutia’s clandestine romance in 1952 on the island of Capri – a journey that inspired Neruda’s book The Captain’s Verses, which would later become the blockbuster movie Il Postino (The Postman).