Bats and bookish sights celebrate National Book Day

Editor Camilo Ayala levels off the ground for young readers in Mexico to feed on something else than social media threads and timelines
Pages deemed strange, morbid or cruel, a colloquium - Photo: Taken from Libros UNAM Facebook account
EL UNIVERSAL in English/Berenice González
Mexico City
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A calligraphy portrait of five-time Nobel Prize in Literature nominee, Alfonso Reyes, welcomes the visitor to Camilo Ayala’s office, Head of the Department of Electronic Content and Special Projects at UNAM Editorial Promotion and Publishing, who warmly greets us to reveal this year’s developments of the colloquium around National Book Day celebrated in Mexico on November 12.

Longstanding editor Camilo Ayala Ochoa, organizes pioneering encounters aimed at luring young audiences into the bookish culture, “creating a readership is both a task and our duty as a college publishing house. This year’s colloquium celebrates our experiences as readers and delves into bookish curiosities surrounding the book culture around the world.”, says Camilo Ayala in an interview for EL UNIVERSAL in English in Mexico City.

Pages deemed strange, morbid or cruel is the title of a series of conferences seeking to unveil the little known phobias, manias and rituals surrounding the book culture around the globe, in a line-up that includes famed Mexico writers like Rafael Pérez Gay, the fantasy and horror pens of Ricardo Bernal and Francisco de León, plastic artist Otto Cázares, famous for his integration of drawing, historical culture, radio and TV with writing, as well as Cuban poetess Odette Alonso and witchcraft literature professor, Cecilia López Ridaura, to name a few.

Licentious behavior in Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and the serial-killer in Anthony Burgess’ a Clockwork Orange will also be discussed by writer Gerardo Gerbasio.

Despair owns its own books, a discussion table, will explore cruel, morbid and strange mechanisms at play in the processes of editing, printing and distributing books through time.

“The public will also have access to conferences surrounding how Gutenberg’s Bible was considered a work of the devil at the time of its mass production, macabre book binding with human skin and usage of the quintessential terrible ink, blood, in runic books, as well as peculiar metaphors of the book as a vampire who stole hours from the night and rendered fantastic dreams or the bats released at night in Portugal to feed on insects praying on books in Joanina and Mafra Nunnery libraries respectively”, notes an enthusiastic Camilo who adds that little known human ailments associated with books, such as the bibliophagist or the bibliophilist will also be explored in this year’s programme.

For Camilo Ayala, this year’s lineup is a “celebratory gathering focused on personal reading experiences in contrast with the current state of the publishing trade.” aimed at bringing together both aspiring editors and young readers of any background with the publishing world in Mexico, “If we understand editing as an attempt to link creation (writing) with the consumer (reader), in a world where the middle man tends to disappear, the role of the editor stretches to that of a content creator and promoter of these encounters. Failing to do so is condemnation for his disappearance as we are yet to see in years to come.”

What advice would you give to people interested in the book industry?

-Read. Read, and, while you put the book at the heart of your path you will be able to participate in this industry, regardless of your background.

What is the goal of this year’s colloquium?

-To create a bookish audience that will feed on historical essays and other texts from our 400 book collections the same as from the current social media threads of information.

Pages deemed strange, morbid or cruel, a colloquium is open to the public this Friday, November 10 with a free registration starting at 8:30 in Simón Bolívar Amphitheatre located in San Ildefonso College, cradle of Mexican muralism, in downtown Mexico City.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to know more about further events organized by UNAM Publishing House, its bilingual fiction and nonfiction collections, as well as the people behind this legacy editorial experience.


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