Last evening I went to the opening weekend of readings at the 37th annual Buenos Aires International Book Fair, which is held at this time each year, and runs for three weeks (compared with the famous Frankfurt Book Fair, which goes three days, or the London Book Fair which extends over a long weekend). This is the largest book event in the Spanish-speaking world. I went to the American Embassy’s stand to hear readings by Nicole Dunaway and Julia Napier.
No way to number the crowd, but I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say there were at least 100,000 people inside, and another 100,000 outside, trying to get in. There was a line, four abreast, stretching more than four city blocks from the front entrance, and on the back side of La Rural (the Buenos Aires Convention Center where the annual event is held), at the entrance to underground parking, the streets were totally gridlocked for blocks around, not a car moving — although plenty of madly howling car horns.
As a participant in the event, I have a pass, plus I happen to live two blocks from the place, so I managed to get inside easily enough. I’m not sure if some of those people ever got in. All this for BOOKS. I have not disguised my feelings about much of life in Buenos Aires, good and bad, but this makes me love the city.