Book fair will feature works from U.S.

With the United States as this year’s country of honor, the International Book Fair returns to Costa Rica. The free fair known locally as the Fería Internacional del Libro begins its 15th year on Friday, Aug. 22, and runs until Aug. 31 at the Antigua Aduana.

Elizabeth Fonseca, the minister of culture, said the U.S. spotlight will give Costa Rican readers a better understanding of not just the country’s literature but a broader perspective on American reality.

“The United State’s participation as the invited country will allow attendees a closer relationship with authors from there and also authors of other American countries that live in the U.S.,” Ms. Fonseca said.

The fair’s special guest is Jennie Smith, an award-winning reporter and environmental writer who was born in New York. In 2011, Ms. Smith penned “Stolen World”, in which she garnered high accolades for her ability to scoop out a reptile trafficking scheme between zoos. Ms. Smith currently writes for the Wall Street Journal and lives in San Salvador, El Salvador.

Hundreds of other writers, speakers, artists, and scientists will also be on hand for the 10-day festival that features more than 300 activities. Both national and international books will be on sale throughout the fair.

A memorial will also be paid to Costa Rica’s famed writer and politician Alberto Cañas who died this past March. Ms. Fonseca said a booth will be set up in Cañas’ honor, reminding avid readers that the country’s first ever minister of Cultura y Juventud had a goal of reading 100 books a year.

Luis Bernal Montes de Oca, the president of the local book group, said the idea surrounding the annual book fair is for people to fall in love with literature and reading. “The principal objective of the fair is to promote reading and provide a space where readers can find all their books in one space,” he said.

The Ministerio de Cultura y Juventud is slated to spend 65 million colons, or about $120,000, on the book fair. In late June, the current administration openly questioned the appropriation of funds from past ministry leaders on a series of annual programs, including the Festival Internacional del Libro. Ms. Fonseca said that from 2011 to 2014 spending on the cultural events tripled when compared to event expense reports from similar periods earlier.

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