For eleven days in August, the Bienal do Livro book fair will be setting up camp at Anhembi Parque for an annual book fair, now in its 22nd edition, that unites publishers, book stores and distributors, not to mention school kids by the coach-load, under one enormous roof.
Visitors beware: the venue is a concrete convention and events complex that can be a drab setting at the best of times; and unless you’ve done your homework, the book fair can be an unrewarding visitor experience. But it’s an important marker in Brazil’s literary calendar, and there are plenty of book signings, talks and workshops to discover if you plan ahead.
This year’s fair pays homage to two of Brazil’s greatest writers, the novelist Jorge Amado and the playwright Nelson Rodrigues, both of whom would have turned 100 this August. Cultural centres across the city have been paying tribute to both writers with a host of exhibitions and events over the past months.
Here at the Bienal, one of Amado’s best-known books, the evocative Gabriela, Cravo e Canela (Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon) lends its name to a culinary arts space, Espaço Cravo e Canela, which will be hosting cooking demos and discussions with top chefs and food writers.
Look out for authors in the flesh, pens at the ready to sign their books. Get in line to see Cecily von Ziegesar launching the Brazilian edition of Gossip Girl Psycho Killer, a bloodier reworking of the first book in her smash hit Gossip Girl series. And for the gastronomes, Rio-based celebrity chef Claude Troisgros will be launching his recipe book As Melhores Receitas do Que Marravilha!, from his cable TV series Que Marravilha!.
It isn’t all about print though. Gol Editora will be presenting its ‘Nuvem de Livros’ (nuvemdelivros.com.br) – an e-book and audiobook cloud service with thousands of titles – and it’s also rumoured that Amazon will be launching its Kindle e-reader along with an online catalogue of e-books in Portuguese.