Thursday, 21 March 2013


A Brazilian anthology in French.
The eager crowds streaming into the Paris Book Fair at the official opening on Thursday evening provided much-needed encouragement to the many international writers and publishing staff fighting to adapt in a rapidly changing industry.

“It’s great to know that people are still reading,” said Constancia Egrejas Morel, a translator and literary agent at the Brazilian pavilion at the fair. “For writers from countries such as ours, this is especially heartening because it means there is also interest in translated works.”

Brazil, several African states, China and Japan are among the overseas representatives at the annual four-day event which runs until Monday, March 25, in the French capital. This year the book fair (or Salon du Livre) is also honouring Romanian literature, while Barcelona is the "guest city".

Forty-five countries in all are displaying their literature and holding discussions, book signings, and other cultural activities, and some 60,000 people are expected to visit the fair over its course.

The large Brazilian presence is part of the government’s policy to promote and distribute Brazilian authors in France, according to the country’s embassy in Paris. Their stand displays more than 1,000 titles, both in the original language and in translation.

Brazilian writer Marcal Aquino
The writers featured include the celebrated poet and composer Vinícius de Moraes, who would have turned 100 years old this year, as well as many contemporary authors such as Suzana Montoro and Marçal Aquino, who are now making a name for themselves.

Egrejas Morel told SWAN that most translations of Brazilian literature occur in France and Spain, but agents would like to see more books being translated into English.

“By showcasing the works at various book fairs, we hope to draw more attention to the wealth of Brazilian writing,” she said.

The publishers of African literature have a similar goal. For the fourth time, they’re taking part in the Salon du Livre with authors that include Alain Mabanckou and Henri Lopes, both representing the Republic of Congo, and Fatou Diome, representing Senegal.

The writers will meet the public at the pavilion titled “Livres et auteurs du Bassin du Congo” (Books and Writers of the Congo Basin), which has Senegal as the guest of honour in 2013. One of the round-table discussions will centre on the topic of female authors who use their art to take a stand on social issues - a subject that is sure to spark heated debate.

African cuisine is also sharing the spotlight as the fair has a huge cookbook focus this year, with well-known chefs giving cooking demonstrations amid the stands of shiny new books. 

Meanwhile, journalism about the continent can be explored through publications of the Jeune Afrique Group, which has its own section of magazines and reports.