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Portugal stakes a claim at Colombian book fair

The work of Saramago, Lobo Antunes and Cames to be featured, as well as that of young writers.

Gone but not forgotten: Jos Saramago will be featured at the Bogot book fair.

Portugal is the guest country at the International Book Fair in Bogot also known as FILBo, which opens this month, reflecting an upsurge in interest in Portuguese-language literature.

Jos Lus Peixoto and Ins Pedrosa, both young Portuguese authors, are among the 23 writers who will feature at the Colombian event. Works by legendary figures such as Fernando Pessoa, Lus Vaz de Cames and Ea de Queirs will also feature, as well as that of the more contemporary Jos Saramago and Antnio Lobo Antunes.

According to Pblico newspaper, over 30,000 books will be available within a 3,000-square-meter pavilion. Exhibits include Lisbon Ground, first shown at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2012 and Como as Cerejas, previously shown at the Bologna Book Fair 2012. The Portuguese pavilion is designed by ForStudio Architects, a collective that has garnered some attention for recent work like LandCork, an eco-friendly modular design project for beach-based facilities.

Spanish-language publishers are increasingly turning to Latin America to compensate for slumping book sales in Spain, with reports of that countrys publishing industry battling 10-15 percent decreases in recent years.

In what is possibly the most obvious sign of a shift in the book industry, Random House, owned by the German multimedia company Bertelmann and Penguin, part of British publisher Pearson PLC, announced a deal to merge in the autumn of 2012, creating the worlds largest book company. This merger, which is in the process of seeking regulatory clearances in several countries, includes Penguins operations in Brazil as well as Random Houses Spain and Latin America publishing houses.

Book fairs are arguably beneficiaries of this trend towards Latin America as seen with the 2012 event in Guadalajara, Mexico, which posted attendance numbers of over 700,000. Bogots book fair, meanwhile, has grown in attendance to over 400,000 and generated sales of over 20 million in 2012.

With Portugals inclusion as guest country a year after Brazil was featured at FILBo, it appears that not only is there an interest in Portuguese-language literature in the region but that Portuguese-language writers, agents and publishers are seeking exposure there as well.

Recent exchanges between Colombia and Portugal have occurred in a number of different industries. With the advent of the economic crisis, there have been some efforts to expand Portuguese trade beyond its traditional markets. The European Union finalized a free trade deal with a number of Latin American countries, including Colombia in December 2012. This deal occurred months after the Portuguese government opened a Luso-Colombiana business office in Bogot in May and an AICEP trade office in 2011.

La Feria Internacional del Libro de Bogot runs April 18 to May 1.

© Iberosphere: Spain News and Portugal News – Information and Analysis