In the end, 215,000 people made it through the looking glass, and there had been a whisper in the air that the XXXV edition of the Turin Book Fair would achieve a record turnout. Nicola Lagioia has successfully raised the bar, upped everybody’s expectations, in his final year as Director. Quite rightly so, and the overall achievement is both the commercial success of the fair and the spotlight it brought to shine on the cultural success that was the panels and guests.
An enchanting success
The Salone closed its doors on Monday, May 22, 2023, after a record-breaking five days. The results were announced in the afternoon in the Sala Oro (Gold Room) by some of the senior officials who had made the event possible, and these were Silvio Viale, President of the Associazione Torino, La Città del Libro; Giulio Biino, President of the Circolo dei Lettori Foundation; Vittoria Poggio, Councillor for Culture of the Piedmont Region; Rosanna Purchia, Councillor for Culture of the City of Turin; Piero Crocenzi, CEO of Salone Libro s.r.l.; Nicola Lagioia, Editorial Director of the Turin International Book Fair; and Annalena Benini, Editorial Director of the Turin International Book Fair from 2024.
Whether the rain was a curse or a blessing will never be known, but this year’s fair exceeded the 2022 attendance figures by nearly 50,000 visitors. It was at its peak on Saturday, May 20, a record for the cultural event. Audiences from all over Italy filled the 573 booths and 48 halls.
While the turnout was great, the capacity of the Lingotto centre to accommodate large numbers of visitors is still a sticking point: from the long lines for toilets to the noise pollution in the pavilions – yet these are just among some of the problems that are currently being dealt with in time for future Book Fairs. Ideas for innovating the structure are also accompanied by ideas for expanding the spaces, such as bringing the event inside the Piedmont Region Headquarters, a skyscraper designed by Massimiliano Fuksas.
Dialogues, discussions and prizes
There was no shortage of anticipation, and even an ounce or two of friction in the different parts of the Lingotto centre. Alessandro Barbero, Michela Murgia, and Roberto Saviano were some of the many guests who filled the halls. In counterpoint to this, there were also moments of ideological disagreement, as in the case of the No-Vaxxer determined to argue with Dr. Antonella Viola, or political squabbles, like in the panel where Minister for the Family, Birthrate and Equal Opportunities Eugenia Roccella, who clashed with the Director of the Book Fair, after being challenged by the activists of Extinction Rebellion and Non una di meno.
Significant events took place during the days of SalTo23. One of these was the awarding of the Strega European Prize: the winner of the 10th edition is the French writer Emmanuel Carrère, with the novel V13 (Adelphi). The award was also given to Francesco Bergamasco, translator of the book, as a tangible sign of the importance of translations as a tool for dialogue and knowledge.
A new event was the announcement of the five finalist books of the first edition of the Strega Poetry Prize: Silvia Bre – Le campane (Einaudi), Umberto Fiori – Autoritratto automatico (Garzanti), Vivian Lamarque – L’amore da vecchia (Mondadori), Stefano Simoncelli – Sotto falso nome (Pequod), Christian Sinicco – Ballate di Lagosta (Donzelli). The award will be presented in Rome next October 5.
A passion for everyone
The Bookstock is the home of the children and young adults who, accompanied by teachers and families, once again criss-crossed and brought to life the 7,500 square meters of the space set aside for them. This is a space for sharing, growing, and experimenting, thanks to the contribution of the Compagnia di San Paolo Foundation. The Education Department Castello di Rivoli – Museo d’Arte Contemporanea has reinterpreted the theme of ‘Through the Looking Glass’ with a project made of colorful silhouettes and reflective mosaic walls.
With less genre and more language, the success of comics within the Book Fair also passes through this redefinition of the identity of the ninth art. There were lots of sold-out appointments in the Sala del Fumetto where events in collaboration with Lucca Comics&Games were held, such as the celebration of the 75th anniversary of Tex. Among the most acclaimed guests was Zerocalcare, who presented the trailer for the new animated series made for Netflix.
Even this year, many lectures included sign language translation to enable deaf people to share ideas and knowledge.
Alessandro Avataneo, CEO and founder of Hypercritic, moderated a panel on NPOs, professionalism, and social innovation, on Thursday, May 18, 2023.
And on Monday, May 22, after presenting the book Kitchen Run (Mondadori) in a panel with Rosalba Graglia, Gabriele Eusebi, Luca Marin, and Cristiano Zanolli, Avataneo was a guest of Claudio Petronella (Café Bleu – RBE). Together they told listeners and viewers how the Hypercritic method could move from the digital world to printed books.
In parallel with panel coverage, the Hypercritic team engaged the audience and guests, asking them to lead us through their looking glass.
Each day has been a keyword to bring the audience into the world of Hypercritic. You can see the result by following Hypercritic on Instagram and Facebook and looking for the hashtag #HyperSalTo23.
The XXXVI edition will be held in Turin, from Thursday 9th to Monday 13th, May 2024. Dear Turin International Book Fair, see you next May.
The Hypercritic Team: Adele Calabrese, Alessandro Refrigeri, Alessia Fontana, Giulia Risso, Giacomo Pucci, Hélène Carlotta Lupatini, Maria Laurenti, Umberto Ferrero.