Puerto Rico’s Festival of the Word

The Festival of the Word—scheduled for May 4-9, 2010—will place Puerto Rico at the center of literary and cultural activity in the Caribbean during the first week of May, according to the director of forthcoming event, writer Mayra Santos-Febres. The author of Our Lady of the Night explained in an interview with EFE that the historic Ballajá Barracks in Old San Juan will welcome more than 50,000 visitors to a festival conceived as an effort to sponsor reading in Puerto Rico. “We have worked towards making sure that many different sectors of society come together in the promotion of the reading,” Santos-Febres said.

From the 4th to the 9th of May, writers of the stature of the Peru’s Alfredo Bryce Echenique, Mexico’s Jorge Volpi and Spain’s Enrique Vilá Matas will visit Puerto Rico, where they will participate in book launchings and discussion panels. Santos-Febres emphasized that the event will sponsor a dialogue between the literatures and cultures of the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe and the Hispanic community in the United States. During the festival, guest writers will visit schools and universities campuses throughout the island.

The Festival of the Word is intended to generate interest in reading and in the purchase of books, and the organizers hope that this interest will in turn help the publishing industry in Puerto Rico and throughout the region. The event will include a “Festivalito” of children’s literature. Santos-Febres explained that the Festival will also include workshops for young writers wishing to write for new media, especially the internet.

The Festival is sponsored by the Institute for Puerto Rican Culture, Puerto Rico’s Tourism Promotion Bureau, The Municipality of San Juan, The Inter-American University and the University of the Sacred Heart, among other institutions. The encounter also enjoys the support of the Association of Puerto Rican Broadcasters, La Tertulia Bookstore, the Pasadizo, SM, and Santillana Publishing Houses, and the newspapers El Nuevo Día and Claridad.

Among the writers scheduled to attend are Nicaragua’s Gioconda Belli and Sergio Ramírez, Peru’a Santiago Roncagliolo and Fernando Iwasaki, and Colombia’s Santiago Gamboa and Mario Mendoza. Rosa Montero will come from Spain and Leonardo Padura Fuentes will represent Cuba. Puerto Ricans Emerald Santiago and Willie Perdomo will also be featured, as will Portugal’s Nobel Prize winner José Saramago. For the original report (in Spanish) go to http://www.google.com/hostednews/epa/article/ALeqM5gm0tehYRLrISq05tlaECNh7nsVhg

For more information about the festival go to http://www.festivaldelapalabra.net/

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