Rio de Janeiro Book Biennial: Young Brazilians discover the paper book | Opinion

A young woman teaches several books at the 2021 Rio de Janeiro Book Biennial.
A young woman teaches several books at the 2021 Rio de Janeiro Book Biennial.BIENNIAL OF THE RIVER BOOK

The traditional Rio de Janeiro Book Biennial, which has just celebrated its twentieth edition, has been a surprise for its organizers and for society in general because it has disproved many of the current myths, such as that young people are no longer paper books are excited. They would be just children of the digital age.

The numbers of this Biennial are surprising, the first to be held in person and virtually. Although it was not easy to access the fair site, in the Tijuca neighborhood, 250,000 people attended, 80% of them young people between 18 and 25 years of age. Two million books were sold. “The sales were surprising,” said Marcos Veiga Pereira, from SNELL (National Union of Book Publishers). There were more than a million people who attended the face-to-face events with the authors.

The Biennial was followed by virtually 750,000 people, most of them young. All the authors underline the “enthusiasm of people to touch the physical book” and to be able to know the writers personally. One of the most visited spaces was the one dedicated to the new titles of LGBTI literature.

The Biennial was attended by 70,000 students from public schools with their 5,000 teachers. The figures do not stop drawing attention because Brazil is experiencing a tragic moment in culture caused by a president, Jair Bolsonaro, who does not give importance to knowledge and even despises it. A few days ago, Bolsonaro gave one more example of the little appreciation he professes for culture and especially reading. In conversation with a group of his most fanatical followers, one of them offered him a book. The president rejected it and said: “I don’t read books. I haven’t read anything for three years ”. In fact, he speaks and writes poorly even in Portuguese. Books and their cultural strength have been expressed by all the great thinkers since ancient times. The hatred of books and the culture of all the tyrants of history is unanimous and significant. The famous phrase of the German poet Heinrich Heine “where books are burned, men end up being burned”, as in the bonfires made with books that preceded the Holocaust, is embraced today with that of Vargas Llosa when he affirms that “learning to reading is the most important thing that has ever happened to me ”.

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The young people of today who became enthusiastic about the Rio Book Biennial and seem to have discovered the tactility of the paper book, perhaps in a few years they will not be able to touch a copy because the paper could cease to exist, but they will never forget happiness. of caressing the physical book, of asking its author for an autograph. And above all the pleasure of reading that broadens your mind and allows you to discover the most hidden folds of the human soul.

I will never forget that my father, who was a rural teacher in Galicia, Spain, in the lean times of the post-war period, where the children, including my two younger brothers and I, had a single book for the entire primary school, brought us together next to from his bed to give us his latest advice. Those were times when he went to jail, that is, he was shot not for being a criminal but for ideas contrary to the dictator. “When you are older, you will already have many books,” he told us, adding: “Never forget that even in prison you are less unhappy if you like to read.”

My father, who invented test of intelligence and gave us most of the classes in the street, he ended up being punished by the Franco regime for several months without pay because they said that the children who left their rural school to do secondary school, “asked too many questions” to the teachers, instead of listening in silence.

Yes, books, reading, reflection, the curiosity for knowledge are the axis of our cultural wealth, increasingly despised in a world beset by the nefarious culture of women. fake news and from applause to vulgarity, proclaimed by denialist policies that feed in the sewers of ignorance.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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