On the same trip that took him to Machu Picchu, Hiram Bingham purchased an enormous cache of manuscripts, printed books and periodicals that are among Yale University’s prized possessions. A century after Bingham’s acquisition, I’m visiting Lima on behalf of the Benson Latin American Collection. But I get ahead of myself.
The passage of time and the consistent investment of library funds in the region has diminished the expeditionary character of working in Peru– llamas are no longer employed, DHL is. But the excitement of discovery remains very much a part of working here.
Because it is too fugitive to identify, too cheap to profitably distribute, or in formats that booksellers disdain, much of what scholars desire to view cannot be acquired through established channels. For instance, this trip enabled the purchase of Peruvian feature films, many of which are located nowhere in North American research libraries, and a side trip to Bolivia brought back (alive) a collection of early 20th century photographs from Amazonia. Hiram would be proud!
Travel also nourishes relationships in a country where face-to-face contact remains a coin of the realm. Over the past year I have met twice with the director of Peru’s National Library to establish an agreement that deposits the personal papers of the feminist poet and political activist, Magda Portal, in the National Library and sends scanned images of the materials to Austin for mounting in our digital library. Expect additional details soon.
Your man in Lima,
October/November is a good time to visit Peru and Bolivia as both Lima and Cochabamba host book fairs. Neither should be compared with their better-known South American counterparts in Bogota, Santiago de Chile or Buenos Aires. But both give a good accounting of book production in their countries.
32 Feria Internacional del Libro Ricardo Palma <http://www.mirafloresperu.com/turismo-miraflores-lima-peru/feria-libro-ricardo-palma.php>
October 19- November 1, 2011
Held in Parque Kennedy, Miraflores
I counted 90 stands, between publishers and booksellers. Major academic publishers, some listed below, were in full force as were others, e.g. Casa de la Biblia, that produce material not usually of interest to research libraries.
Academic Publishers and their 2011 publications:
Universidad Alas Peruanas. Memorias del arqueologo Eloy Linares Malaga. La Paz despues de la violencia en el Peru. Belaunde, el pueblo lo hizo. El compartir.
Universidad San Martin de Porres. Del cielo a la tierra. Los arrieros de Chuquibamba.
IFEA. La ciudad de Los cholos.
Universidad de San Marcos. La increible historia de una guerra. La casona de San Marcos. Trabajos de historia, religion, cultura y political en el Peru. Juventud y clandestinidad en Lima. La produccion cientifica en San Marcos. Derecho penal en el Tahuantinsuyu.
Also exhibiting, without showing 2011 imprints, were Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, Universidad Ricardo Palma, Congreso de la Republica, Centro Bartolome de las Casas, Banco Central de la Reserva, Fondo Editorial.
The most interesting news I got at the fair is the names of several out of print sources: Casa del Libro Viejo (www.libroviejoymas.com); Libreria Aleph, Mario Morales owner (I have only the phone number 991964365); IDEAL Libros y Revistas Antiguos del Peru, Av. Nicolas de Pierola, firstname.lastname@example.org; Libreria Inestable, Porta 185 “B”, Miraflores.
And although they were not at the fair, our old friends at Libreria El Virrey have relocated their store in San Isidro to Bolognesi 510 in Miraflores. They maintain their sucursal downtown, Pasaje Nicolas de Rivera near the old post office.
V Feria Internacional del Libro de Cochabamba
27 October – 6 November
Campo Ferial de Alalay
Smaller than the Lima fair, but not by much. Argentina, specifically Salta, was this year’s international invitee. Authorities from Cochabamba and Salta announced an agreement whereby collections of Argentine and Bolivian fiction would be exchanged between the two cities and housed in appropriate locations.
The Argentines stole the show with what Los Tiempos reported as forty stands. Of course, I was there for the Bolivians. Editorial Nuevo Milenario, a publisher new to me, was showing Edmundo Paz Soldan’s latest novel, Norte. Universidad Mayor de San Andres had several new titles, including Ciudades en transformacion, coordinated by Patricia Urquieta; and Fundacion Tierra had copies of Reconfigurando territorios.
Other Bolivian publishers featuring 2011 imprints included:
Universidad Mayor San Simon- Movimientos sociales en torno al agua en Bolivia.
Fundacion Quipus- La corrupcion en Bolivia and Facetas de la contraversia con Chile.
Museo de Etnologia y Folklore- Reunion anual de etnologia, 24
Vicepresidencia de la Nacion- Archivos militares de Bolivia and Archivos graficos (cartels) de Bolivia
PIEB- Ciudad sin fronteras and Formaciones y transformaciones
Plural- Hablemos de tierras
CEDIB announced a compilation on compact disk of its long-running Bolivian news service, 30 dias.
Some may remember a Bolivian feminist organization, “Mujeres Creando,” from their appearance at a recent LASA meeting. They’re still at it, mas que jamas, and among the publications they showed in Cochabamba were: La pobreza, un gran negocio; Mujeres creando … mas and Ninguna mujer nace para puta.
La Paz Bookstores
Libreria Yachaywasi. Avenida Villazon, Paisaje Trigo 447. Tel: 2442437. Near the Universidad Mayor de San Andres (UMSA) and because of its location, the best and largest academically-oriented bookstore in the city. Especially good for journals.
Libreria Gisbert y Cia. 1270 Comercio. Large stock but much of it is text books. Closed shelves limit browsing.
Los Amigos del Libro. Its traditional location on Calle Mercado now houses two fast food restaurants. Currently occupies a less inviting space with a less interesting stock. Calle Ballivian 1275, next to Libreria Juridica Temis.
Libreria Don Bosco. 1805 16 de Julio (El Prado). Once a very good book store and publisher of scholarly journals, increasingly devotional.
PIEB. Avenida Arce 2799, esquina Calle Cordero. Edificio Fortaleza, piso 6, oficina 601. Features its own publications, including periodicals Tinkazos, Nexos, Temas de debate and Medio ambiente y sociedad.
Plural Editores. Avenida Ecuador, esquina Rosendo Gutierrez. Wide selection of works published by Plural, including journal back files.
Of specialized interest:
Museo Nacional de Arte. Plaza Murillo, corner of Calle Comercio.
Museo de Etnografia y Folklore (MUSEF). corner Sanjines and Ingavi.
Both museums are dependencies of the Banco Nacional de Bolivia and feature BNB’s publications, but have much additional materials on art and anthropology.
Casa Municipal de la Cultura Franz Tamayo. Avenida Mariscal Santa Cruz, esquina Potosi. Features publications of the Municipalidad de La Paz, including music CDs and films.
Out of Print:
Libreria BAUL del Libro. Avenida Villazon, Edificio Viveross No. 1957. Near UMSA; large stock of academic books.
Associacion de Libreros Mariscal de Santa Cruz. Many small stalls now consolidated in the newly refurbished Centro Comercial Lanza. North of the San Francisco Church. Most active on weekends.
Paisaje Comercial Marina Nunez del Prado. A series of stalls situated along a walkway beside the Rio La Paz. You descend to river level at several points, e.g. one a half block east (upward) from the corner of 16 de Julio and Camacho.
Getting the license and authorization letter to travel to Cuba through Brown University was a smooth process. The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at Brown offers a study abroad program at Casa de las Americas in La Habana and a number of students and faculty members have already set the path for Cuban travel. I received Title VI funding for the trip and was advised to request my visa and plane ticket through Common Ground Education and Travel. My port of departure from the United States was Miami where I boarded a 50 minute charter flight to La Habana.
Prior to leaving for Cuba I had made arrangements to stay at a casa particular in El Vedado. This private bed and breakfast was run by Caridad Vera and her husband Elio Rodriguez Peréz. I was so happy with their services and friendship that I created a free Webpage through Yola for them: http://casavera.yolasite.com.
I arrived in La Habana on Monday February 15th in the afternoon. Changing my Euros to Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) at the José Martí International Airport was rather easy; however I failed to also acquire a few pesos in moneda nacional which travelers need for riding the municipal bus system and purchasing a few token items. It’s recommended that you do not change US dollars to CUCs. Not only is the US dollar worth less than the CUC but there is an additional 10% bank charge for the US currency.
The next day, I was able to visit the Feria International del Libro thanks to the kindness of a stranger. Not having any moneda nacional on me as I was boarding the special bus to the Fortaleza of San Carlos de la Cabaña, I had to ask the lady standing behind me for change. She quickly offered to pay for my bus ticket and for the entrance to the fair grounds. All I had to do is keep my mouth shut since foreigners have to pay a special price. I would have gladly paid the price for extranjeros but at the time following her advice seemed like the fastest way to get to my destination. Once we got through the doors my new companion paid to have our bags put away in a locker (you cannot enter the exhibits halls with handbags) and showed me around the various rooms where the publisher and bookdealer stands were located. Unfortunately, I soon realized that most books were sold in moneda nacional and I didn’t have the heart to ask my friend for change and, through her boundless generosity, have her pay for Brown’s burgeoning Cuban book collection. I just looked around with the intention of returning the following day.
I didn’t find any materials at the fair that I couldn’t purchase through my regular bookdealer. When you purchase books in Cuba you must keep in mind that you will need special permission to take out of the country books, journals and maps published before a certain date. The Biblioteca Nacional and the Instituto del Libro will assess the materials and process the paperwork for you.
On Wednesday I visited the Instituto Cubano de Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC) with Martha Mantilla. I knew a few people from the ICAIC thanks to a Cuban panel and film series that was organized last year by the Providence Latin American Film Festival (PLAFF), an annual event co-sponsored by Brown University. Unfortunately we missed the Festival de jovenes realizadores cubanos that was due to start the following week.
That afternoon I walked along the Malecón to Casa de las Americas to visit its library and bookstore. The staff was friendly and very helpful. The gentleman managing the bookstore even created a list of Cuban films I should purchase for Brown’s collection.
On Thursday, I visited the Biblioteca Nacional and La Habana Vieja were one may find small bookshops and street book vendors. In the afternoon I strolled down to the famous Heladeria Coppelia where locals and tourists alike may purchase tasty ice cream for a few pesos. Given the limited sitting space and the large crowds people are forced to share tables, a civil way to make new friends in a foreign land. I sat with a young couple attending university. They spoke about the reality of the job market for young Cubans, salaries and the varying levels of job satisfaction. Having spoken about the world financial crisis they paid for my almond ice cream. I was rather mortified, especially since I now had many pesos in moneda nacional in my pocket, but they would not have it any other way. We later exchanged e-mails.
Friday was my last full day in Cuba and I decided to visit film director and theoretician Fernando Birri (Santa Fe, Argentina, 1925) at the Escuela de Cine y Televisión de Tres Mundos (EICTV) in San Antonio de los Baños, near La Habana. Don Fernando, who donated his personal archive to Brown University two years ago, co-founded the EICTV with Colombian novelist and Nobel Prize recipient Gabriel García Márquez in 1986. Since its foundation, Birri travels to Cuba every year and stays at the school for about a month to see its progress and talk to faculty members and students. The EICTV not only offers an impressive program in film and television but is self-sustainable through agriculture.
I left Cuba on Saturday afternoon. My book fair companion made sure to meet me at the airport to say goodbye. Not once did she accept repayment for all the pesos I owed her and only reluctantly accepted my gifts of Argentinean chocolates and Panamanian cookies.
Traveling to Cuba was a unique and culturally enriching experience.