The Hay Festival of Colombia returns to the presence | Culture

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The Hay Festival in Cartagena de Indias, in an image from the 2019 edition, before the pandemic.
The Hay Festival in Cartagena de Indias, in an image from the 2019 edition, before the pandemic.Daniel Mordzinski

The Hay Festival of Cartagena de Indias, the Colombian version that also includes the cities of Jericó and Medellín, returns to the streets of the walled city of the Caribbean, after two years marked by the restrictions of the pandemic, with its conversations to imagine new possible worlds. In total, there will be ten days to celebrate from the literature, the arts, journalism or the economy, from January 20 to 23 in Jericó, from January 24 to 27 in Medellín and from 27 to 30 in Cartagena de Indias.

Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka, the first African to win the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986, returned to the novel this year with Chronicles from the country of the happiest people on Earth, stands out among the 180 participants in this edition of the Colombian version, from 20 countries. Also present will be Yaa Gyasi, the writer born in Ghana and raised in the United States, who will present her new book Beyond my kingdom. Spanish Irene Vallejo, columnist for EL PAÍS, will talk about her acclaimed essay Infinity in a reed with the Colombian Yolanda Reyes.

The literary poster will also feature the Uruguayan Fernanda Trías, winner of the Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz prize for her novel Pink Filth; the Mexican Juan Villoro, with his new novel The land of great promise, Argentine Martín Caparrós with America or the American Jonathan Franzen, who recently published Crossroads, the beginning of a trilogy about the last half century in your country.

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EL PAÍS América, a partner of the Hay Festival in Latin America, will once again host one of the main talks in Cartagena de Indias. Its director, Jan Martínez Ahrens, will talk with Nicaraguan novelist Sergio Ramírez, who has gone into exile in the face of the persecution of President Daniel Ortega. His latest novel, Tongolele did not know how to dance, addresses the 2018 citizen protests, the trigger that has led the Managua regime to issue an order to arrest him.

In the long list of Colombian authors, Pilar Quintana stands out, the winner of the Alfaguara prize with The abysses, Juan Gabriel Vásquez –also a columnist for this newspaper–, Piedad Bonnet, Evelio Rosero, Pablo Montoya, Ricardo Silva or Mario Mendoza. The journalist María Jimena Duzán, another EL PAÍS collaborator, will interview the Jesuit priest Francisco de Roux, president of the Truth Commission that emerged from the peace agreement with the former FARC guerrilla, which is now five years old. The Spanish cartoonist Tyto Alba will speak with the Antioqueño writer Héctor Abad Faciolince about the graphic novel of The oblivion that we will be.

“We are delighted to regain presence under all the necessary biosecurity measures,” said Cristina Fuentes La Roche, International Director of the Hay Festival. However, virtuality will not go away either, since about 35% of the events will be broadcast live. Also, some of the guests will connect by streaming, including Rodrigo García Barcha, who will talk about the book he dedicated to his parents, Gabo and Mercedes, a farewell; the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei or the Hispanic-Mexican philosopher Carissa Véliz.

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“Returning to the presence is to once again enjoy the cities as protagonists of the festival. The Hay Festival is a space in which the city coexists, in the case of Colombia Jericó, Medellín or Cartagena, with the authors, with the public, with the cultural richness and the multiple dimensions of human contact ”, values ​​Fuentes La Roche. “It is essential to return to the presence and do something so intrinsic to the human being, which is to tell stories.”

The agenda includes a wide range of thinkers, in a broad sense. In one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, environmental and scientific issues will be addressed in an axis dedicated to the climate emergency, which will feature the Colombian-Canadian anthropologist Wade Davis, author of The river and Magdalena, the Icelandic writer Andri Snaer Maggnason or the Colombian biologist Brigitte Baptiste, rector of EAN University. French economist Thomas Piketty will be the protagonist in current discussions, while artists Ruvén Afanador and Ana González Rojas will pay tribute to indigenous peoples with a photographic exhibition.

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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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