Evita, Maradona draw the crowds at world's biggest book fair

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The Independent Culture

Memorabilia from Eva Peron and writings from football legend Diego Maradona pulled in the crowds Wednesday at the world's biggest book fair, which this year features Argentina as its guest of honour.

The fair is showcasing the work of more than 60 authors from Argentina, as well as readings from classic pieces of literature, with Jorge Luis Borges, considered a great of 20th century world literature, taking centre stage.

But visitors to the Argentina stands crowded round the glass cases displaying a light-brown suit once worn by Peron, nicknamed Evita, the wife of three-time president Juan Peron, as well as other writings and memorabilia.

The iconic Evita's rags-to-riches story later became the subject of a musical and films, including a 1996 movie directed by Alan Parker and starring Madonna.

Less known for his literary outpourings, a separate display case shows musings written by the "Hand of God" itself, belonging to Diego Maradona.

A hero in his home country, Maradona lifted the World Cup in 1986, before going on to coach the national team in South Africa in 2010. He was sacked after the team lost 4-0 to Germany in the quarter-finals.

Opening the fair at a gala ceremony on Tuesday, Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, describing herself as "an avid book reader", said: "As a politician, I would never have dreamed of being invited to the Frankfurt Book Fair."

"It just goes to show that dreams sometimes do come true," she added.

In an emotional speech, Kirchner called up to the stage Elsa Oesterheld, widow of Hector Oesterheld, a journalist and author who disappeared at the hands of security forces during Argentina's military dictatorship.

Many of the books at the fair deal with this period between 1976 and 1983, Kirchner said.

The book fair, with some 7,500 exhibitors from more than 100 countries, runs until Sunday.

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