Tempo di Libri: the freedom of exploring with the alphabet

19 April 2017

Tempo di Libri is the new Book Fair for publishers that will be held at the Milan Trade Fair in Rho on 19-23 April. A Trade Fair not only for books but for contents, and centred on the reader, who will be free to choose, to read all proposals offered in the programme through the 26 key letters of the alphabet (plus the @ of the digital world). A genuine tool to design individual paths by following different stories in the form of books, voices, graphic novels, video games, movies and newspapers. It is a Trade Fair in which publishers, literary festivals, magazines and newspapers have been invited to participate as event publishers. At Tempo di Libri publishing means expressing a cultural design. Tempo di Libri is a scene, from A to Z, in which every reader and every curious person can create his/her own alphabet, and use those letters to make words, and those words to do everything. It is the same idea that inspired Magoz, the international illustrator who, requested to design the image of the Book Fair, represented the book by summarising everything that it has been and will always be for us, namely a window, a door, a cosy place and much more. These clues, and all the worlds enclosed in the alphabet, will be translated into an equal number of personalised adventures, a map of which will be provided on the official website and app.


The alphabet of Tempo di Libri is a structure that allows stories and different worlds to interweave ― 26 letters-words plus the @ of the digital world ― and it has allowed us to develop every event with all the publishers attending the Book Fair. We started on 16 January with the letter D of Dissident that will be the protagonist of the Fair with the series of daily meetings with Roberto Saviano, Diego Osorno, Pinar Selek, Giancarlo Ceraudo and Miriam Lewin (chaired by Marino Sinibaldi). And also with widely known figures, whose political, religious, cultural and social activity has always been characterised by strong personal commitment, often clashing with institutions and agreements. We could mention Father Milani, whose Meridiano edited by Alberto Melloni will be previewed at the Book Fair. Always under the term “dissidence”, the World Day of Books and Copyright, the Italian Association of Publishers (AIE), the Federation of European Publishers (FEP) and the International Publishers Union (IPA) have organised an international conference on freedom of expression on 23 April. Core topics will be the closing down of publishing firms in Turkey, censorship and control of publishers of school books in Hungary, the ferocious repression in Egypt and in China. The event will focus on the stories of three young women, Ildikó Török, Yonca Cingoz and Angela Gui who witnessed resistance in the name of freedom of speech, and the geography of dissent in today’s world will be narrated, curated by Kristenn Einarsson with reflections by Egyptian author ʿAlāʾ al-Aswānī and journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi. The letter J will be used in the tag #JaneAusten, one of the greatest authors of all times. This year is the bicentenary of her death. A series of lezioni d’autrice, (lessons from a female author) held by important voices of contemporary literature, such as Italian Simonetta Agnello Hornby, British Sophie Kinsella, Spanish Clara Sánchez and Italian Sveva Casati Modignani will be dedicated to her. Anniversaries continue at the letter T that, fifty years after his death, stands for Totò. Maurizio de Giovanni will read ‘A livella’ (The Spirit Level) and Diego De Silva and Sergio Rubini will interpret an impossible dialogue/interview entitled Totò e la morte (Totò and Death).

Z, instead, stands for Zaha Hadid, a great woman and architect who died in  2016. A meeting-tribute will be dedicated to her with Stefano Boeri and Mario Coppola, a young architect who worked in Zaha Hadid’s London firm and has written a novel based on this experience. The book will be released at Tempo di Libri. From Zaha Hadid’s biography to those of extraordinary women and men – a tribute to the Swiss author and intellectual Annemarie Schwarzenbach will be paid by Melania Mazzucco (who, at the E of Estraneo (Stranger), will participate with Carlotta Sami, spokesperson for the UNHCR and a manager of Meds Sans Frontières, in a meeting on migrants that will consider their tracks from black Africa to Italian Centres for Identification and Expulsion (CIE)). A portrait of the photographer, poetess and painter Dora Maar will be outlined by Concita De Gregorio. The parable of life and imaginations of Antonio Santelia, who died very young but whose drawings and architectural projects have inspired generations of dreamers, as also the horizons of Metropolis and Blade Runner, will be discussed in a dialogue on architecture and design of the future with Gianni Biondillo and Luca Molinari. The centenary of the Russian Revolution will be recalled at the letter R with four special appointments spanning the periods from Lenin to Stalin and Putin (with the former ambassador in the Soviet Union Sergio Romano, the founder of “il manifesto”, journalist and author, Luciana Castellina, and the historian and essayist David Bidussa, Director of the Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Foundation’s library), from the role of avant-garde artistic movements (related by Barbara Alberti) to that of great poets, such as Majakovskij (described by Serena Vitale). In 2017 the number 100 will also be important for its reference to the Giro d’Italia, the one-hundredth edition of the race for the pink T-shirt will leave a few days after Tempo di Libri and will be celebrated at the Book Fair at the letter G for Grand Tour (a word that also triggers powerful literary suggestions), with several appointments that will involve, among others, the Director of Rai Sport Gabriele Romagnoli, and authors Fabio Genovesi and Maurizio Maggiani.

The letter X will play various roles, including that of defining the portraits of authors. Meetings/conversations will trace the whole career of some leading interpreters of narrative literature between the 1900s and the 21st century. Tempo di Libri will host Irish Edna O’Brien (symbol of the eternal restlessness of the “country girls”), Israeli David Grossman (who will have a discussion with Wlodek Goldkorn and Caterina Bonvicini) and Abraham Yehoshua, the Italian Fleur Jaeggy, Margaret Mazzantini, Michele Mari, Walter Siti, Domenico Starnone and the critic Alberto Asor Rosa. Instead it will not be X, but Q of Quanto (how long) that will define the much awaited meeting with Irvine Welsh. In perfect symbiosis with an event, whose very name refers to the passing of time, the Scottish author will reason about the twenty years spent between the first adventures of the protagonists of Trainspotting and their recent return to cinema screens with T2 (Trainspotting 2). How much have the protagonists of that rip-roaring generation changed? And how much have we changed? Irvine Welsh will converse with Vanni Santoni, author of a bizarre “Trainspotting nel Valdarno” (Trainspotting in Valdarno), who will also be the lead figure with Michela Murgia and two role players of Extremelot and Dreamalot, Fabrizio Gagliarducci and Alessandro Giammei, now a fellow at Princeton, of a discussion on the Middle Earth and role-playing to recall the world of Tolkien, of the Hobbit and of fantasy.

Always at the X of in depth analysis, because X indicates the spot one has to dig to find the treasure, we find the series―original for Tempo di Librion novels that have risen in the charts without their authors but with the power of their readers: Attending absentees. Stories of success after death, books that have become famous after the death of the person who wrote them. From Kent Haruf (with Eraldo Affinati and Antonio Franchini) to the Uruguayan essayist and playwright Mario Benedetti (with Daria Bignardi and Francesco Piccolo), from the stories of Lucia Berlin, a recently discovered talent (with Caterina Bonvicini, Teresa Ciabatti and Concita De Gregorio) to the novel Il resto di niente (The Remains of Nothing) by Enzo Striano read by Corrado Augias, who daily talks about books on Rai3.

Tempo di Libri will be the place where readers may meet many of their favourite authors, whether they are the interpreters of the great season of made in Italy thrillers (the Book Fair will be attended by Biagio Bolocan and Giancarlo Carofiglio, Sandrone Dazieri and Carlo Lucarelli, Marcello Simoni and Hans Tuzzi) or the most talented interpreters of the art of comics (the letter F will see Canadian Guy Delisle, Graziano Frediani, Makkox, Lorenzo Mattotti, Rutu Modan with an exhibition, Vanna Vinci, Zerocalcare). But the Book Fair will also be the venue of special, original meetings in which the contact point between protagonists will provide a simple idea to reach something unexpected. It is the case, under A for Adventure, of the discussion between two astrophysicists, namely the author of the fantasy bestseller Licia Troisi and Sandra Savaglio, portrayed on the cover page of “Time”, Professor in Italy and Researcher at the Max-Planck Institute, and of the conversation between author-astrologer Marco Pesatori and the mathematician Paolo Zellini, about whom Italo Calvino wrote, in his Lezioni americane (Six memos for the next millennium), “Of all the Italian books of recent years, the one I have read the most, reread and mused over is Breve storia dell’infinito (A Brief History of Infinity) by Paolo Zellini.” An original pair is also formed by Luis Sepúlveda and Carlo Petrini, who will compare notes with the public on the themes of sustainable development, seeking happiness and discovering simplicity once again in a long and passionate letter to young generations. Another unorthodox pair comprises Marcello Fois and Michela Murgia, protagonists of the scenic reading of Quasi Grazia (Virtually Grace), the work dedicated by Marcello Fois to Grazia Deledda, in which Michela Murgia will play the role of the Sardinian author, Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926, in the Italian tour that will commence in autumn. Other special women who will come to life on the stage of Tempo di Libri are Queen Christina of Sweden, who blossomed in the pages of Dario Fo’s last book which, published after his death, was presented at a meeting-show by his son Jacopo Fo and the Uruguayan poetess Idea Vilariño. She was the focus of a tribute paid to her in the form of a reading by Lucia Calamaro, interpreted by the “Imperfect Mother” Lucia Mascino. Regarding readings and anniversaries, Tempo di Libri and Filippo Timi dedicate to Stephen King, on his 70th birthday, the reading of pages chosen from Shining to celebrate 40 years since its publication. The setting will be fascinatingly staged, and a tricycle will most certainly appear. All this will take place at the letter S of Sangue (blood). But there is more than only shivers. Indeed, oncologist Patrizia Paterlini-Bréchot will talk about how, starting from a certain type of analysis, a test perfected by the doctor from Modena can provide an early diagnosis, which is crucial in the fight against cancer. All family stories will also be related at the S of Sangue.

The voice of scientific research will be heard in interventions by Roberto Burioni, Professor of Microbiology and Virology who, on social networks, is the protagonist of battles in defence of the reasons that make it crucial to vaccinate children; and also in the analysis of innovations, whose outcomes are still not entirely clear, such as, for instance, the revolution of genome editing explored by the journalist Anna Meldolesi. This section will even present theories that are still under discussion (like the “plant revolution” proposed by plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso) and forbidden questions, such as the one addressed to mothers at the meeting with the Israeli sociologist Orna Dornath: “If you could travel back in time, would you decide, once again, to become mothers?.”

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