Friday, July 2, while waiting at the Cinemateca to see the French film Rapt (Kidnapping), I was surprised by the commotion of chairs, books and the songs of Joan Manuel Serrat on the Spanish poet Miguel Hernandez, a recurrent figure in Cuban publishing houses, which they were celebrating on another Book Night at 31 points along 23rd Street in El Vedado, stretching from 14th to the Malecon.
Although rain reduced the flow of the public, late Friday afternoon there were attractive options on the premises of the movie theaters, the parks and the entryways of cafes and restaurants, where passersby could find the works of Jose Lezama Lima, conjured up in an interactive form for his centennial; Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of Don Quixote, around whose sculpture the bookstore In a Place on the Rampa was opening; Dora Alonso, who presented three children’s books in The Blue Driver tent; and authors such as Jostein Gaarder, Carlo Frabetti, Nicolás Guillén, Rogelio Martínez Furé, Ariel Díaz, Joaquín Borges Triana, Joel del Río and the already-mentioned Miguel Hernández, whose Passions, Jail and Death of a Poet, is being sold by the publisher Art and Literature.
Book Night is a mini urban fair that takes advantage of the pedestrian spaces which are used by various cultural institutions. Each publisher brings recent examples, while the move theaters in the area, Casa de las Américas, the Fundación “Fernando Ortiz” and the UNEAC show their usual fare.
As the current latest thing is the Soccer World Cup in South Africa, the final matches are being shown in the Yara theater, although sports fanatics could also be found on the “hot corner” of 23rd and B, where there were ball demonstrations, sales of the Baseball Guide, and a chance to meet athletes from the Industriales and the Capitalinos basketball team.
The book sales alternated with “Reading on the Web” (at the FEU headquarters), Art on the Rampa (Cuba Pavillion), a presentation of the Puerto Rican group Otoqui (the park at 23rd and C), a poetry reading conducted by Basilia Papastamatiú (Cafe de G), and the Campesino Gauteque of the El Cochinito restaurant, where the publisher Capiro shared Limendoux, Legend and Reality, by Rene Batista Moreno.
Among the novelties of Friday was Physics, Adventures in Thought, by Albert Einstein and Leopold Infeld; three compilations about Africa, two volumes on computing, the anthology Mucho Mas Cuento (Enrique Pérez Díaz), participative spaces on narrative, books and magazines; recitals by singer-songwriters and concerts from Síntesis, Clover and the humorist Antolín in the theaters 23rd and 12, Riviera, and Chaplin, respectively.
On Book Night on 23rd Street we appreciate the exclusion of the writers marginalized by the official commissars of culture. Works of authors who are integrated within the system of stars of the Castro regime predominated: (Miguel Barnet, Nancy Morejón, Cintio Vitier, etc.), apologetic pamphlets such as Ángel (father of the Castros), and Cuba, Little Giant Against Apartheid, by Hedelberto López Blanch; Media Violence: Words and Images for Hatred and War, by Pascual Serrano, and pamphlets by or about Ernesto Guevara and Fidel Castro, basically a compilation against the dissidents who challenge the dictatorship.
In verses, printed on a sheet, would be added — by the same author — the following: “As a spring that / flows eternally / as a path, I will go / and I will never finish going.” Quoting these lines is an intention to honor those eternally absent from the bookstores, but not from our minds.
Through the streets I am leaving something that I am going to gather in: pieces of my life come from very far away.