Last week, Salon du livre de Montréal completed its 35th show. The event, which highlights literature from Quebec and elsewhere, marks the largest display in North America of French-language books. This year, 120,000 book fans attended the annual fair. Publishers metamorphosed into booksellers as they transformed a vast empty exhibition hall into an inviting book parlor with plush sofas, flirtatious design and rows of miniature coniferous trees.
More than a simple book fair, the Salon du livre de Montréal perpetuated its tradition of being a meeting point for Quebec's cultural and political elite. With over 250 official author discussions, round tables, story times and social debates on its three official stages--La Grande Place, L'Agora and the Carrefour Desjardins--the Salon du livre took stock of the past year's major events and projected possible futures for Quebec's literary, artistic and political scenes. In addition, no less than 1,600 authors held book signings and 950 exhibitors presented their latest titles. Readers had to be patient to meet their favourite authors--attendees included hockey journalist Luc Gélinas and children's book author Mélanie Watt--as certain lines required waits up to three hours.
That there were long waits to meet authors is expected, though, given the them of this year's Salon. Executive director of the show, Francine Bois, said: "We were really hard pressed to find a theme this year when the theme suddenly imposed itself: Les auteurs en tête d'affiche, Authors as Headliners."
Among other major themes highlighted at the fair were the Maple Spring, Children's Books, Quebec's literary identity, Livres comme l'air amnesty for political prisoners and the evolution of Quebec's book profession. Quebec's book professionals held private trade meetings and specialized conferences and two publishing delegations from Germany and Britain met with local publishers to negotiate foreign rights to Quebec titles.