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Issue 26 - June 2006

Friday 30 June 2006 by Maria Velichkova

June was very rich in events so this issue of the newsletter is longer than usual. Still, there was not enough space to share with you everything that we wanted to. If you become curious about a particular activity, simply contact us at Next Page and we will send you more information.

Prague Book Fair and the East European publishing scene

(JPG) From May 3rd to 7th 2006, the 12th International Book Fair and Literary Festival in Prague took place attracting a great number of projects, ideas, professionals and readers. The fair was preceded by the Literature Across Frontiers conference, focused on translations of Slavic literatures, development of independent publishing and international promotion of literature. The book fair program traditionally focuses on children’s reading promotion, accompanied by clever promotional materials under the motto “we grow up with the book”.

The Prague Book Fair was attended by two journalists, supported by the Cultural Journalists’ Study Visits project of Next Page. Alexandra Bubevska from A1 TV, Macedonia, carried out interviews to research modern Czech book publishing and Ani Burova, free-lance journalist and senior assistant in Slavic Literatures at Sofia University, was also a panelist in the conference, together with Yana Genova from Next Page.

The pre-summer holiday period is marked with quite an intensification of the debate on publishing in cultural periodicals and mass media in Central and Eastern European countries as three other journalists have also completed their study visits within the project. In May and June Marta Dvorak from Gazeta Wyborzsa, Poland, Mele Pesti from Eesti Express, Estonia and Barbara Matejcic from Vjesnik, Croatia, returned from the Bucharest Bookfest, Skopje Book Fair and Warsaw Book Fair.

How to Write for Romani Children – a workshop within the Our Stories project

(JPG) (JPG) On the 11th and 12th of June 2006 a 2-day workshop on writing for Romani children took place in Sofia, Bulgaria where a group of 20 Romani writers and teachers from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and Serbia, along with writing and reading experts from the International Reading Association - IRA, International Board on Books for Young People – IBBY and Critical Thinking International.

As a trainer and moderator of the workshop, Charles Temple, member of the International Reading Association, with years of experience in writing for minority children, introduced different examples of children’s books and multicultural literature. Martin Auer, an author, trainer and member of IBBY led a session on how to present childhood in stories, how to write stories on demand and how to write in verses for children. Guided by the trainers, the Romani writers demonstrated their creativity by writing short stories on topics based on real life such as “Grandmother tales”, proverbs and problems that face the Roma children. At the same time, the authors were advised on methods of how to encourage children to collect folk material, how to work with illustrators and how to share writings with colleagues and kids.

After presentations of experiences on Romani children book production from Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, and Romania, the workshop concluded with future plans for writing stories about the contemporary life of Roma children. These will be stories that reflect the Romani child’s life and problems, and at the same time present a world that is touching and interesting for every reader. Selected stories will be published and distributed through reading performances in Romani communities.

The workshop is the first in a series of events within the framework of the Our Stories project that encourages the process of Roma youth inclusion through creative reading and writing-related practices in Roma communities. The project is supported by the European Cultural Foundation. For more information on it, follow the news on our web site or contact Sofiya Zahova, project coordinator.

A press conference marked the 3rd year of the Books across Borders program in Serbia and Montenegro

JPG - 79.8 kb
article in Danas

Imagine you live in a country that speaks a language that is very similar to the one in the neighboring country. Imagine that just across the border, a book is published that you very much want or need to have. Imagine that your choice is limited as there are millions of reasons why books do not cross the borders …

The Books across Borders framework program had two overarching aims. Not only to strengthen publishing infrastructures in Serbia/Montenegro and to create a healthy and pluriform book market climate in the country itself, but also to foster cross-border exchange of information, book-trade and other joint activities within a space that once used to be a common book market.

The program’s end was officially marked on the 15th June in the Ministry of Culture of Serbia with a press conference that made an “inventory” of the program achievements so far. While substantial components of the project funded by Dutch development support are already completed, Next Page will remain committed to the project and particularly to its regional dimension in the future.

The program was carried out thanks to the National Library of Serbia, CEEBP – Amsterdam, OSI – Serbia and the financial assistance of the MATRA program of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, OSI – Budapest, Ministry of Culture of Serbia, participants’ contributions and other donors.

For more information on its achievements, consult the project web-site at, or the Next Page 2005 annual report that will be available at the end of July.

Best tools to bring your literature to the world

(JPG) Last weekend the Old City Hall of Vienna hosted an international meeting of representatives of the various institutions engaged in promoting East European literatures in translation. For 2 days, 35 participants from 15 countries were exploring best practices, obstacles and practical solutions for bringing translations of “non-mainstream” literatures to the European and global audiences. Some of the concrete practices that were identified as successful include efforts to keep the link with translators via congresses and other events, publishers’ trips, promoting writers of specific genres, “coming out” collectively rather than country by country; Spain and Germany as good “points of entry”; stands’ focal points; quick-response mobility funds and others. At many points, there were lively discussions around the necessity to focus on “reception” activities that aim at creating the context in which a given literature appears in translation.

A very concrete outcome generated by the meeting was that government representatives of two countries – Ukraine and Bulgaria - that still do not have comprehensive policies and funding for promoting translations abroad announced that they are ready to make more substantial commitments and to acquire further know-how from their experienced colleagues.

The conference was organized jointly by KulturKontakt-Austria and Next Page.

New books published

(JPG) Ian Buruma, Avishai Margalit, Occidentalism: A Short History of Anti-Westernism, translation from English into Bulgarian by Grisha Atanasov (Kralitza Mab, Sofia 2006), supported by the Translating Current Debates project

A rather debatable book, that tries to conceptualize the anti-Western attitudes and stereotypes, which in the final analysis are traced back to the West itself. Through historical facts and demonizing fantasies, the two authors interpret the complex concept of the West, as it is construed by its so-called “enemies”. The book appears in Bulgaria a few years after the publication of Said’s Orientalism, hence it could extend and deepen the academic and sociopolitical context of thinking and discussing the West and its Other/s.

(JPG) Mara Zalite, Margarita, translation from Latvian into Lithuanian by Silvestras Gaiziunas (Vaga, Vilnius 2005), supported by the East Translates East Publications project

This play represents a kind of contemporary parable, referring to the story of Doctor Faustus and the lost innocence of Margarita. The prominent Latvian poet and playwright Mara Zalite succeeds in incorporating the classical plot into the dynamic context of new Europe and the ethical challenges its citizens face, while ‘enlarging’ their world. It is not unusual that Lithuanian is the language into which the work is translated. Considering the fact that the play has already been shown in Berlin and Bonne, one can expect that more translations and publications are to appear not only in the neighboring countries but also on a broader European scene.