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The extraordinary Porto Book Fair will honour Júlio Dinis in 2021
Porto Book Fair was bound to be an extraordinary literary event, not only due to the ongoing pandemic, which led to organising an event under stringent conditions linked to public health issues, but also because, as usual, the literary event was not found wanting.

The pandemic prompted Porto City hall to organize the most relevant literary event in the city in a different manner as usual, for the past seven years.

The Mayor of Porto, Rui Moreira stated that organising Porto Book fair 2020 was never out of the table, during an informal talk that he held with the Fair Programme Coordinator, Nuno Faria, just hours before the literary event would conclude , on 13th September, next to the Rádio Estação stall, the official radio of the event.

"We have defined this horizon, we set the compass heading to that date and luckily we were able to accomplish it", Mayor of Porto was pleased to add.

The Municipality of Porto was one of the first to shut down cultural activities that involved large social gatherings, but the Mayor of Porto already had "objectives and one ambition", namely "the resuming of cultural activities and the social contact in the framework of the Book Fair".

This was the moment when Rui Moreira also announced, during the live broadcasting of the talk with Nuno Faria, for Radio Estação, that the next author to be honoured at Porto Book Fair, in 2021, will be Júlio Dinis, a nineteenth century writer of Porto, who died at the young age of 31 of tuberculosis, which is the reason why some of its works were published posthumously. He was also a poet, a playwright, and novelist, and the first great novelist of modern Portuguese middle-class society; although his novels are still popular in Portugal today, Rui Moreira thinks that "his work deserves recognition".

"Júlio Dinis was a marvellous writer that we must project once again. (...) I truly think that it can lead to a Book Fair that will, once again, be surprising, and this is a writer that needs finding again", Rui Moreira furthered and assured that preparatory work for next edition start as of tomorrow, precisely because we won't take the most predictable and easier road".

100 thousand visitors to Porto Book Fair 2020

Mayor of Porto stated that "it is extraordinary that we had circa 100 thousand visitors in the current context".

"We did it and we have weighed a number of circumstances; first of all, the event takes place in a public space, which is fenced and thus guarantees that we can control the number of visitors. Also, the Book Fair has a different characteristic regarding any other cultural event by Porto City Hall, as it is transversal: there's music, poetry, reading, but there is also the commercial activity linked to book selling. We had already sensed that this would be a heavily affected sector", Rui Moreira enhanced and added that all the exhibitors at Porto Book Fair have shown "full confidence" towards the Municipality.

The results, Rui Moreira highlighted, "are in plain sight. I think this was the time when the Fair was best promoted, but the issue here is that it could not go wrong. And the magic of the setting, it helped, as well".

Nuno Faria, in turn, added that "this event and this space are indeed special, inclusive and transversal, where booksellers feel welcomed".

This edition was a special one, with estranged contingency measures, namely limited capacity, special signs reading rules to follow, such as the use of facemasks, hand sanitisers and devoted entry and exit points.

The programme coordinator explained and took the opportunity to elaborate on a message delivered earlier by the Mayor of Porto: "We want this event to be an horizon of hope", stressing that this message extends to everyone, but especially booksellers, publishers, used book stores and musicians in general.

"In this regard I recall the Concertos de Bolso, programmed by Maus Hábitos, and one of the novelties of this edition, as an incentive so that these bands keep performing and feel wanted", emphasized Nuno Faria.

The primacy of this Book Fair "was the written and the spoken word", and the celebration of poetry, "especially written by women", Nuno Faria added.

Porto Book Fair will continue to link memory and listening, and it will continue to do so next year with the tribute to Júlio Dinis.

Listen to the full interview HERE.