By Nathan M. Walters, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Paraty International Literature Festival (Festa Literária Internacional de Paraty, or FLIP) starts today, July 4th, and runs until Sunday, July 8th.  The event, now in its tenth year, is one of the most celebrated literary festivals in South America and is renowned for the diverse artistic talent it attracts as well as the positive impact the festival has on promoting literacy in Brazil.

The 2011 FLIP festival, Paraty, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
The 2011 FLIP festival, photo by Ministério da Cultura/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Situated in the idyllic setting that is Paraty.  The harbor town, along the scenic Costa Verde (Green Coast) and surrounded by lush mountains, is a short jaunt from Rio (around two hours) and, much like its neighboring island, Ilha Grande, has become a must-see for tourists visiting Brazil.

However, FLIP is not your normal tourist event.  Rather, this week the cobblestone streets of the colonial city will be filled with the an impressive collection of international authors, artists, publishers, agents, and readers traveling to Paraty to partake in an event that has come to enjoy a reputation as the premier literary festival in South America.

Past events have welcomed celebrated literary personalities from around the globe, including: Salman Rushdie, Chico Buarque, David Sedaris, Will Self, Toni Morrison, Amos Oz, and David Byrne only to name a few. This year is no different.

This year’s opening program will focus on legendary Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade (a bronze statue of whom sits near Posto 6 in Copacabana) before blossoming into three days of panels and readings by some of the world’s most-respected authors.  Among them: the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Franzen, recipient of the National Book Award, and internationally-acclaimed writer Ian McEwan.

Writers are only one part of the events at FLIP.  As in past years, this year’s event will welcome filmmakers, cartoonists, historians, journalists and artists, who will participate in round table discussions.  The scheduled events will take plan at FLIP Authors’ Tent, an 850-seater auditorium (which usually is booked well in advance) with simultaneous translation and broadcast in the Screen Tent, which seats up to 1,400.

Critically acclaimed American novelist Jonathan Franzen will participate in this year’s FLIP, photo by Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile/Flickr Creative Commons License.

Local bookshops are already primed for the event, with translations of authors’ books crowding display tables and translated work even popping up in Brazilian periodicals.

“I read an essay in Portuguese about Alzheimer’s by Jonathan Franzen in this months Piauí magazine,” says local Maureen Ferreira.  “I hadn’t read his books but after reading the article I picked up two of his books in Livraria da Travessa.”

The festival also provides attendees with the opportunity to stock up on the titles of visiting authors and, time permitting, get the signature of their favorite writers. But promoting authors and selling books is only part of FLIP, the event also has a strong social purpose as well: increasing literacy in the Brazil and particularly in the Paraty community.

FLIPinha is a parallel event filled with activities that introduce local school children to the joy of reading.  For local teacher Ana Barreto, “FLIPinha is a great event for the students in Paraty.  Gives them the opportunity to see the excitement that accompanies reading.”

Perhaps as the recent announcement that it will start offering e-books in Brazil proves, the country is experiencing an increased interest in reading for pleasure.  The success of FLIP has no doubt contributed to this trend and seems likely to continue promoting the importance of literature long into the future.

Subject to availability, tickets for the Authors’ Tent are priced at R$40 (US$20), while ticket for the Screen Tent are priced at R$30 (US$15) for the opening shows on Wednesday night and R$10 (US$5) for the following days. For more information about FLIP 2012 visit the event website.


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