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Havana's Book Fair: An Invitation to Reading

The Cuban capital, with a centuries-old history, has brought together representatives of major publishing houses from all over the world, who are attending Havana's Book Fair, which has become a true attraction for book lovers.

The Morro-Cabaña historic park adds to its colonial traditions a broad selection of contemporary literature that turns the place into a pilgrim's site for thousands of people eager to meet their reading needs.

The book fair is dedicated to Spain, which is attending the event with 12 exhibitors representing 170 publishing houses from that Iberian country, and covering an exhibition area of over 1,000 square meters.

Spain's presence is complemented by the participation of major Spanish contemporary writers, including Almudena Grandes (the author of "Las edades de Lulú" and "Malena es un nombre de tango"), Rosa Regás and Luis García Montero.

Spain's participation is reinforced by the performance of Cristina Hoyos' company. She is a renowned figure in her country's flamenco dance and a former member of Antonio Gades' group.

However, the fair goes beyond Spanish literature thanks to the offers from 50 Latin American, European and Asian distributors, in addition to 62 Cuban publishing houses. Among the participants are Mexico, Argentina, Germany, Brazil, Colombia, France, Great Britain, Japan, Jamaica, Libya, Peru, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Switzerland and Venezuela, as well as agencies from the United Nations.

Over 100 titles are presented during the fair, including "El año de la muerte de Ricardo Reis", by 1998 Literature Nobel Prize winner José Saramago, from Portugal, and "Textos violentos", by Mempo Giardinelli, from Argentina.

Latin America is represented by the Chilean writer Marcela Serrano, author of such novels as "Nosotras que nos queremos tanto" and "Nuestra señora de la soledad", and 1991 and 1995 Alfaguara Novel Award winner, and the Mexican author Laura Esquivel, who wrote "Como agua para chocolate" (Like Water for Chocolate), which was filmed by Alfonso Arau.

The fair's program also includes 13 theoretical meetings on the life and work of Roberto Fernández Retamar (president of the Havana-based Casa de las Américas), literature written by women, contemporary novel in Hispanic-America, Spain's 1927 generation, and the city and the cultural environment.

Technology is also present at the fair, at which a pavilion has been dedicated to electronic publishing houses, which are presenting their digital products.

Under the shadows of the walls of the colonial fortress, visitors to the fair have the chance to buy books, since 1,400 titles totaling nearly half a million issues are on sale.

In short, nine days of intense literary work in the Cuban capital, where - beyond possible awards - the Cuban people's culture is the only winner.

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