Best-selling Latin American fiction writers from numerous countries, including Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Peru and Argentina, will be featured in the new International Pavilion at the Library of Congress National Book Festival on Saturday, Sept. 5, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Programs in this pavilion will run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and will straddle a number of subjects, from world religions to the best of Latin America’s fiction and poetry, and will end with fascinating, true stories from the Amazon jungle.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. (doors open at 9 a.m.).
The International Pavilion will open with a program featuring three contributing editors of the new “Norton Anthology of World Religions,” a comprehensive, two-volume work described by The New York Times as “a landmark documentary history.” The work focuses on Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Jack Miles, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author as well as the leading editor of the anthology, will moderate a conversation between Islam scholar Jane McAuliffe and Buddhism and Daoism scholar Donald S. Lopez Jr.
At 11:50 a.m., the pavilion will present several Latin American fiction writers. Homero Aridjis, Mexico’s greatest living poet, will talk about his country’s rich literary traditions. A panel of four writers—including Mexican novelists Álvaro Enrigue (“Sudden Death,” Muerte subita) and Cristina Rivera Garza (“No One Will See Me Cry,” Nadie me vera llorar) together with Chile’s Alejandro Zambra (“Bonsai”) and María José Navia (Instrucciones para ser feliz)—will discuss trends in contemporary Latin American fiction. Moderating the discussion will be the director of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at Georgetown University, Gwen Kirkpatrick.
There will be five solo presentations. Peru’s Santiago Roncagliolo, winner of the prestigious Alfaguara Prize for his novel “Red April” (Abril rojo), will talk about his highly successful novels about fear as well as his latest collection of black-humor stories, “Hi, This is Conchita.” Chile’s prizewinning Alejandro Zambra will reappear to talk about his novels “Bonsai” (made into a feature film in 2011) and “My Documents,” as well as short stories published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review and Harper’s. Valeria Luiselli, Mexican author of the internationally acclaimed novel “Faces in the Crowd,” which won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, will speak of a writing career that has spanned Africa, Europe, Asia and the United States.
Argentine novelist Andrés Neuman—winner of Spain’s coveted Herralde Prize and finalist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for “Traveler of the Century”—will talk about his fiction, poetry and cultural commentary. (Neuman, Zambra and Roncagliolo were all selected by Granta magazine as among the 22 Best Young Spanish-Language Novelists.) Closing out the fiction programs in this pavilion is Colombia’s renowned Juan Gabriel Vásquez, who won the IMPAC Dublin Award for “The Sound of Things Falling.” Apart from his novels, Vásquez is also known as a columnist, cultural critic and translator of John Hersey, Victor Hugo and E.M. Forster. His latest novel is “The Informants.”
The International Pavilion will close with a special segment called Amazon Stories, featuring renowned British historian, explorer and past president of the Royal Geographic Society, John Hemming, who is best known for his magisterial “The Conquest of the Incas” and “Tree of Rivers: The Story of the Amazon.” Hemming will talk about his latest book, “Naturalists in Paradise: Wallace, Bates and Spruce in the Amazon.” He will be followed by a multimedia presentation and conversation between ethnobotanist Mark Plotkin (“Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice”) and David Good, the American son of a Yanomami tribeswoman, who will recount their travels and adventures among the peoples of the South American rainforest.
The National Book Festival (www.loc.gov/bookfest) is funded by private donors and corporate sponsors who share the Library’s commitment to reading and literacy. Since 2010, National Book Festival Board Co-Chairman David M. Rubenstein has been the festival’s lead benefactor and has pledged funding for the festival for five more years. Charter Sponsors include AARP, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Washington Post and Wells Fargo; Patron sponsor, the National Endowment for the Arts; Contributor-level sponsors C-SPAN2’s Book TV, Jacqueline B. Mars, The Junior League of Washington, National Geographic, Scholastic Inc. and WAMU 88.5 FM; and, in the Friends category, the Marshall B. Coyne Foundation Inc., the Cultural Institute of the Embassy of Mexico in the United States, The Embassy of Peru in the United States of America, Georgetown University’s Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction, The Hay-Adams, the Inter-American Development Bank, The Jefferson Hotel, Susan Carmel Lehrman, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute with support from board chair Roger A. Strauch, the Mensa Education & Research Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, NPR, Small Press Expo and Split This Rock. Those interested in supporting the National Book Festival can contact the Library at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov) is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs, publications and exhibitions.