China brings its culture to Cuba in next month book fair

By Rongyi Zhang, in Havana, Cuba, January 2018

The 27th annual Cuba International Book Fair will take place at Morro Cabana park in eastern Havana. The main event will last for ten days starting on February 1st in Havana, and then move to other parts of the country until May.

Havana’s book fair started in 1982 with Fidel Castro’s direct support. Its purpose was to bring culture into the island. It took place every two years until 2000. Since then, the event has been scheduled annually.

This year’s guest country of honor, China, will bring its culture to Cuba. Fei Yao, the political counselor in the Chinese Embassy, said at a press conference in December of last year that the Chinese Minister of Culture and publishers are preparing for this event. The Confucius Institute of Havana University is organizing the event in cooperation with Cuba’s domestic book institutions.

“We are very busy in these days to get this done,” Wei Zhang, Dean of the Confucius Institute in Havana, said. “We cooperate with local publishers such as the Cuban Book Institute and the National Book Chamber to prepare for the most popular cultural event in this country each year. We provide volunteers and technical support to the fair. Although we are not official sponsors, the Confucius Institute plays an important role in organizing this event. Also, our institute will have its own booth.”

China started attending the event in 2013, but this is the first time that the Asian country will be the honored guest. Yao said that the Chinese government will send a large delegation which will include experts in Chinese culture and writers. The delegates will participate in various activities including presenting Chinese books and round tables with Cuban writers.

“The Chinese government values the event very much,” Zhang said. “There are many countries from all over the world attending this event, so the Chinese government thought it as a good opportunity to display aspects of the Chinese culture and traditions to the world. The government had sent cultural exchanging groups in the past few years. This year, we have a high-level artistic group, a delegation of different Chinese publishers, and a group of famous modern writers.”

One of the highlights of the 2018 book fair is that the event will have different activities in 22 locations in Havana, including book stores and publishing houses. There are a total of 133 expositors registered from 31 countries, according to Granma, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist party in Cuba.

The international book fair is one of the greatest cultural events in Cuba now, and the 2018 event is expected to attract over 100,000 readers, Zhang said.