Dispatches from Spain: Libroviedo

I’ll start by confessing to my almost complete ignorance of contemporary Spanish literature. Besides Carlos Ruiz Zafón and Javier Marías, I can barely name a Spanish writer who hasn’t been dead for eighty years (Garcia Lorca, Unamuno, Machado). So what a pleasure it was to attend Libroviedo 2019 and to try to update myself.

The 2019 version of the annual book festival held in Oviedo was excellent. The set-up was simple: over ten days, all events plus book sales took place in a central exhibition hall in the old town. There was a children’s play/drawing area, several book-buying areas where you could browse the shelves unmolested, a signing table, a central stage with microphones, and a space with seating for thirty audience members.

More importantly, there was an interesting variety of Spanish authors, some local, some not. Among them were novelists, poets, children’s book authors, essayists and historians.

Each session used the same format: a dialogue between an interlocutor, who’d read the author’s book, and the author. The former asked pertinent questions and expressed opinions on the book. The latter tried to look humble and sound intelligent (they succeeded admirably).

Paloma Sánchez Garnica
Ayanta Barilli

The three sessions I enjoyed the most were Paloma Sánchez-Garnica’s presentation of her novel La Sospecha de Sofía; Renaissance woman Ayanta Barilli (actress, theater director, producer, journalist, novelist) discussing the genesis of her novel Un Mar Violeta Oscuro; and a charming session about a children’s book based on a little girl’s drawings: Papá, ¡cuenta mis dibujos! is by Xavier Eguiguren and his daughter, who, of course, is also the book’s illustrator.

Congratulations and thanks to the organizers. Felicidades. ¡Fue un éxito!

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