ARGENTINA / MEXICO: The invitation of Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa to a book fair in Argentina has stirred up a domestic controversy that has even required the intervention of the Argentine presidentRecord ID: 304100
- Title: ARGENTINA / MEXICO: The invitation of Peruvian novelist Mario Vargas Llosa to a book fair in Argentina has stirred up a domestic controversy that has even required the intervention of the Argentine president
- Date: 3rd March 2011
- Summary: BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA (MARCH 02, 2011) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF ARGENTINE BOOK FOUNDATION PRESIDENT GUSTAVO CANEVARO LOOKING AT A BOOK (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ARGENTINE BOOK FOUNDATION PRESIDENT GUSTAVO CANEVARO, SAYING: "The motivation for the [invitation] is still valid and I think it is important that shouldn't change in wake of the wave of criticisms that have arisen. We are open to hear opinions and moreover it wasn't our intention that some Argmentine authors felt they were being excluded. It is clear that in reality what we want to do as a fair is to pursue excellence and transcendence. To that end we were looking to give the international fair greater international visibility and we think that we have done that well with Vargas Llosa."
- Reuters ID: LVAAUVZSOMEDUX53EQMWFWRGCN2A
- Location: Mexico, Argentina
- Country: Argentina
- Duration: 00:01:00
- Topics: International Relations,Arts / Culture / Entertainment / Showbiz
- Story Text: Nobel Prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa was in Mexico to receive an award for his literary achievements on Wednesday (March 02), but far away in Argentina an appointment on his calendar next month already has literary buffs in a stir.
The Peruvian author was invited to inaugurate the Buenos Aires Book Fair in April, but Argentine intellectuals have challenged the visit, saying Vargas Llosa is too critical of the Argentine government.
He declined to comment directly on the controversy.
Director of the Argentine National Library, Horacio Gonzalez, has led the opposition.
He says Vargas Llosa's right-wing views and opposition to Argentine President Cristina Fernandez are well known, making him an unfortunate choice for such a prestigious event.
"I don't have any [complaint against] the fact that [Vargas Llosa] is a novelist, the fact that he is a Nobel Prize winner, against his literary career, against him speaking in the fair, against him in anyway other than [the fact] he will be in Argentina for an international forum of a right-wingers, and will go from there to inaugurate the book fair seems to be an inopportune coincidence. So we proposed to the Book Fair that Vargas Llosa shouldn't be included for the inauguration but instead for a conference at a time that the fair could determine. And I wrote a letter to the authorities of the Fair to communicate the idea. This caused a huge controversy because it seemed as though we were trying to limit the presence of an author who has won the Nobel Prize," Gonzalez told Reuters.
Vargas Llosa once ran for president in Peru and is an active political commentator in Latin America.
The organization which has asked the author to help inaugurate the book fair says he was chosen strictly for his literary importance, rather than his political views.
"The motivation for the [invitation] is still valid and I think it is important that shouldn't change [our decision] in wake of the wave of criticisms that have arisen. We are open to hearing opinions and moreover it wasn't our intention that some Argentine authors felt they were being excluded. It is clear that in reality what we want to do as a fair is to pursue excellence and distinction. To that end we were looking to give the international fair greater international visibility and we think that we have done that well with Vargas Llosa," said Gustavo Canevaro from the Argentine Book Foundation, one of the organizers of the Buenos Aires Book Fair.
President Fernandez even intervened in the controversy, saying in a phone call to Gonzalez it was important to respect freedom of speech on both sides.
With neither side backing down it seems the show will still go on.
"The position of the National Library, as indeed it was expressed by the president, is that the debate should continue with well-laid arguments and the explicit ideas which characterize [debate in] Argentina. A hard and strong debate, but one without any coercion or limits. In my role as the director of the National Library I should form part of the debate as well as protect it but I should not interfere in the decisions of the authorities of the Book Fair. So the debate continues, Vargas Llosa will probably inaugurate the Book Fair and in Argentina we will have a fruitful debate that will do no more than fill the lungs of democracy in Argentina," Gonzalez said.
The Buenos Aires book fair runs from April 20 to May 09.
Vargas Llosa's secretary could not confirm that the author had any other appointments in Argentina during his April visit.
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