July 30, 2021

Policy bath at FIL | Culture

Policy bath at FIL | Culture



Rise of extremism, populism, doubts about the future of democracy. Deep political crisis in Nicaragua and Venezuela, and change of Government in Mexico and Brazil. The overabundance of political issues under development has made the 32nd edition of the International Book Fair of Guadalajara (FIL) in a hive of editorial presentations, lectures and round tables: without neglecting literature, cornerstone of the largest editorial appointment in Spanish, the rise of political conversation marks the step after the presidential elections in the two largest powers in Latin America , paid off with radically different results: victory of the far right Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil and the leftist Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico.

Everything has been politicized and the tables of novelties of the publishers adapt to the times: the most brainy titles, relegated until now to little deserving positions, copan this 2018 the positions of privilege in Guadalajara. The Mexican seal par excellence, the Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE) is the best thermometer. "We perceive two tendencies: a greater interest of the public in the political essay and an inclination of the authors to write more didactic titles, less technical, that reach all readers", confirms Raquel Mendoza, head of sales of the FCE at the fair. In a national key, the 50th anniversary of the most relevant student movement in the recent history of Mexico stands out among its novelties with two titles: 68 and its interpretation routes, by Héctor Jiménez, and the most pedagogical 1968 explained to young people, by Gilberto Guevara. Also the explanatory titles on the reforms of the outgoing Government and the many unknowns that the new one will have to solve.

Challenges such as the Central American crisis and the migrant caravan have come to occupy, from the opening day, the first concern in the discourse of writers after the attempt to jump the fence and the repressive response of Donald Trump. Two years after his election, he is still present, almost like the first day, at the FIL talks. "As soon as the fair ends I leave for Tijuana", summarizes, in conversation with EL PAÍS, the Chilean journalist and essayist Patricio Fernández, author of Cuba. A trip to the revolution. "I want to know how these people are," he adds, referring to the migrants.

Two of the reference stamps, Planeta and Penguin Random House, also confirm the change of editorial pattern. "Interest in politics has grown exponentially," says Carlos Báez, commercial manager of the former. A title of its collection stands out above the rest: The master scam, the journalistic investigation that won the Ortega y Gasset prize this year. In the penguin banner, the Mexican political essay also takes the cake, with AMLO and the promised land and the investigation on illegal financing of electoral campaigns Money under the table to the head. But the interest of the readers goes beyond the national scope: the captivating portrait of the chaotic day by day of the most powerful man in the world in the oval office that draws Bob Woodward in Trump. Fear in the White House and the memories of Michelle Obama focus attention. "It is the best proof that readers' interest in politics, Mexican or foreign, has grown exponentially," adds Édgar Garrido, Penguin's manager at the fair.

The global boom of nonfiction, which has subtracted part of the still very large market share that monopolizes the novel in the preferences of the general public, comes from far away. But this year's FIL has gone a step further. If in the years immediately after the financial crisis the economic essay, especially the writing with a desire to divulge, emerged as a great star, now the institutional upheaval has brought politics to the forefront. There is no colloquium or round table on this subject that does not register good entry, and stands of independent publishers such as Sixth Floor are also full of new thinking. Two samples: in False tracks, Argentine Néstor García Canclini travels to Argentina, Spain or China in a semi-fictional 2030 in an attempt to unravel, in a hypothetical future, the keys of today. And in the stimulant How did we get into this disaster?, George Monbiot, one of the most recognized firms of the British newspaper The Guardian, directly addresses those who feel at odds with life, those who feel that their lives are becoming "disgusting, brutalized and long", those who feel misled, those who watch with boredom the future of civilization , to those who believe that we have moved too far away from nature. Everything, through a compilation of texts published in the last decade, a period marked by the shaking of the economic crisis and by the social earthquake that has shaken the western geopolitical board.

Bolsonaro, Maduro, Ortega, Trump, Duterte, Putin, Erdogan, Orbán. The proliferation of politicians who openly bet on one of the oxymorons of our time – illiberal democracies -, when not directly by the return to even darker times, also monopolizes the agenda of the more political IDF. The democratic fabric built in the last half century – until its popularization as a global phenomenon in the nineties – has creaked, continues to creak, besieged by the simplification proposed by demagogues of every political sign. The rise of extremism, especially of the right, which has entered a new phase after the election of an ultra that remembers with gratitude the legacy of the military dictatorship as president of the greatest power in Latin America has been the penultimate outbreak.

"We are in a Shakespearean period," sums up John Keane, author of Life and death of democracy, which is presented as a kind of guide to travel in the darkness of today and has just seen the light in Spanish. Broadening political horizons at a time when real dialogue has become a treasure to preserve – for a short time – is another of the essayists' efforts. "Politics has been reduced to the mere administration of governance. The political imagination has been closed ", completes Rafael Lemus, co-editor of The future is today, a compendium of texts on the future of democracy, the legalization of drugs or the de-commodification of everyday life. The politicization of our day to day is a fact, and the books are not left out of this wave.

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