>Cuba’s celebration of books draws millions


>Took Monday off from reviewing books, but i’m currently reading a guaranteed best seller by Kimberly Kinrade, her acclaimed ““Bits of You & Pieces of Me”.    Now, on to today’s news:

HAVANA – A river of people flows through the old colonial fortress, and the antics of clowns and music blasting from loudspeakers are interrupted only when an announcer summons the parents of a lost child. It’s a festival all right, but a festival of books.
The high walls of El Morro and La Cabana, which offer a spectacular view of Havana’s bay, house a giant celebration that mingles literary chitchat with an exuberant popular fair where some 6 million visitors socialize, browse for sandwiches of sizzling pork and scramble for novels, essays and scientific tomes.
With an illiteracy rate near zero, Cuba boasts that its International Book Fair — which turns 20 this year — has little in common with what it calls more elitist events in the Americas and Europe.
“This fair is oriented toward the reader … as a chance to acquire books and have a dialogue with the authors, both Cubans and foreigners,” organizer Edel Morales told The Associated Press.
“It is a notable difference to others in the world where people rarely attend,” he said. “Here it is the people who make the fair.”
Still, what sets the fair apart also presents some challenges.
The absence of a “professional segment” of meetings between critics, large publishing houses and other experts is one of its shortcomings, Morales acknowledged.
The event catalog lists more than 60 national exhibitors including publishers and regional cultural centers. All share one characteristic: They either are run by the state or have strong ties to the government.
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