FILBA: BA’s International Lit Fest

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PH: Dara or

Heads up readers, Buenos Aires is wrapping up September with a bookworm compost fest that starts on Wednesday 27th of September and lasts all the way up till Sunday. It’s the city’s annual FILBA international literature festival, and this year the alphabet is getting more swing than ever.

Interspersed between the usual black rimmed debates there are a couple of sparkly speckled surprises including performances, live music, a silent reading party and more.

One of the many changes of the Festival this year is the location, a clear symptom that the literature scene in the city has grown and will continue to do so. Events will be taking place at the MALBA, the National Library, the Margarita Xirgu Theatre and the Casa Victoria OCampo. The topic of this edition is violence.

Some suggestions include:

MALBA: Figueroa Alcorta 3415, Palermo

27/09: Dance performance at 8pm.

28/09: Interview with Juan Echenoz.

29/09: Theatre performance based on a dialogue between John Gerassi and Simone De Beauvoir.

Also, on Thursday and Friday at 7pm, you can tour the museum’s Diane Arbus photography exhibit while listening to a reading of related literary texts.

National Library: Agüero 2502, Recoleta

On Saturday and Sunday most events will take place in the National Library. From 4pm onwards there will also be a book fair, and on Saturday, a literary performance between 4 and 6pm (sign up here: talleres@filba.org.ar  and bring along a book to donate), drinks and a poetry reading at 7.30pm, and a feminist poetry party at 9pm.  On Sunday, wind down at the Silent Reading Party at 4pm, and then head to the 5.30pm screening of four authors’ favourite violent film scenes.

Margarita Xirgu Theatre: Chacabuco 875, San Telmo

Julieta Venegas and Martín Buscaglia will play together at a live concert that will take place on Friday at 9.30pm. To get tickets, stop by the theatre on any of the festival days between 4pm and 8pm  and donate a book.

Casa Victoria O’Campo: Rufino de Elizalde 2831, Palermo

The rationalist house of emblematic local literary figure Victoria O’Campo will be hosting a special photography exhibit as part of the festival.

5 Argentine Authors worth Reading that are not Borges

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Eterna Cadencia Bookstore (Honduras 5574, Palermo) PH:aya padrón

If there’s something that Buenos Aires knows how to do, it’s books. The city is chock full with bookstores, publishing houses, readers and writers alike, and although Borges, and Cortázar are the names that usually come up when it comes to local lit, there is plenty more room to make on the bookshelf for Argentine writers. Below, a pick of five that are well worth the read, just as a starter.

Roberto Arlt: A contemporary to Borges, who belonged to the more “refined” Florida group of authors, Arlt was the greatest exponent of the antagonic Boedo literary group that wrote with more of a social focus. His novels, sometimes more straightforward, sometimes more complex, paint a gritty and unique picture of Buenos Aires and its strange characters.   His novels include Diary of a MorphimaniacMad Toy, Seven MadmenThe Flame-Throwers, and Bewitching Love.

Silvina OCampo: Another Borges contemporary, Silvina, sister to Victoria OCampo and wife of author Bioy Casares, wrote mostly short stories and poetry. She also studied painting and drawing and was one of the first Argentine women authors, alongside poet Alfonsina Storni and Alejandra Pizarnik, to receive recognition for her outstanding literary work. Her writing mostly fits into the fantastic and surreal, displays rich imagery and explores recurring themes related to childhood, mirrors and transformations. Some of her translated works include Thus Were Their Faces and Silvina OCampo (stories and poems) by Jason Weiss.

Rodolfo Fogwill: Sociology graduate and first a businessman, Fogwill began his writing career later on in life and was able to focus solely on it after his short story “Punk Girl” was awarded the first prize in a literary contest. His very famous and truly accomplished novel, Malvinas Requiem:Visions of an Underground War, was written while the war was going on, and rumor has it that it was written on a seventy two hour writing binge.

Juan José Saer: Atmospheres tainted by weather and landscapes contain the sinuous narratives that this master of the novel wrote during his life. Some of his works translated into English include: Shadows on Jeweled Glass, The Witness, The One Before, Nobody Nothing Never, and The Event.

Ricardo Piglia: Celebrated internationally, Piglia wrote short stories, essays and novels about truth and fiction, social and political issues as well as having been a well known literature professor both in Argentina and abroad. His novels include Artificial Respiration, The Absent City,  Burnt Money, Nocturnal Target and One Way Road.