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Issue 27 - July 2006

Tuesday 25 July 2006

New Round of South-South Grants is Now Opened – Titles from India, Turkey and Iran

Next Page Foundation is pleased to announce the opening of a new round of grant-giving for South-South translations. The South-South Translations initiative seeks to counterweigh the dominant North to South and West to East information flow patterns by supporting Arabic publication of works from countries that share historical, cultural or linguistic ties with the Arab world such as Turkey, Iran and India. The project aims to facilitate dialogue and exchange of information and knowledge amongst these countries and also intends to support cross-border cooperation between publishers to ensure better distribution and wider access to the supported books.

Publishers from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Palestine are invited to apply. To facilitate publishers’ choices, Next Page Foundation is providing lists of titles recommended for translation from Turkey, Iran and India, although publishers are welcome to apply for titles not included on the lists. All applications should be submitted by e-mail to Natasha Mullins by August 31, 2006. For further information, the lists of recommended titles, and application form, please refer to the home page of

On the VAT on books in Bulgaria. Again.

Sometime in the late 90s “VAT on books” was much debated as an issue in the East European publishing world. For the new EU member countries it is not so any longer as years ago most of them introduced lower or zero VAT on books.

In Bulgaria, however, the issue is back on the agenda as in the beginning of July the Bulgarian parliament voted on a new law that regulates VAT exemptions on some goods and services. The new law introduced preferential VAT on medical supplies and services, education, cultural heritage, circus and others, alongside the already existing preferential taxation rates for tourism (and gambling!). For the first time since the introduction of the general VAT in 1994, the Bulgarian Publishers’ Association supported by educators, librarians, writers and public intellectuals launched a wide and a wisely planned campaign advocating for preferential taxation of books. So far without any success. The fact that the ruling coalition voted against the proposal is perhaps not a surprise. What was more surprising was the level and the kind of arguments used in the parliamentary debate on the issue. The publishers built their case around a multitude of diverse assertions ranging from the importance of books for education and preservation of national language, through current European practices to market development and finances. On the other side, the arguments were much less coherent but no less diverse. We heard some radical market liberalism coming from the leftist party stating that direct taxation in Bulgaria is already quite low compared to European standards so in fact “people can choose for themselves if they want to spend their money on milk or on books”. There were (ungrounded) fears of the EC reaction on exempting too many sectors. We also heard that “bread is more basic than books” so why not exempt the food processing industry. Outside the parliamentary pseudo-debates, the senior economist of the Open Society Institute – Sofia argued that in any sector the benefits of preferential tax treatment are always smaller than the costs. At the end, however, it was not really the arguments that defined the outcome of the vote. This was a surprise for no one other than the publishers themselves.

On 18th July Next Page director Yana Genova moderated a public discussion at the Red House in Sofia on “The State and the Book”. The debate was yet another step in the publishers’ public campaign but also in their efforts to enlarge the range of arguments in defense of the special status of the book in public policy.

New books published

(JPG) Alija Krasnići, Fortune Covered by Poorness, in Romani (Romani Cultural Center, Kragujevac 2006), supported by the Grants Program of VORBA project

This is the first original novel on the contemporary life of Roma people living in Kosovo and gives an unique insight into this topic. The book describes the life of a Romani family in the Romani neighborhood of Obilić that undergoes all the dark sides of poverty and historical changes that took place there in the 90s. The author’s style of writing is very close to the typical story-telling in Romani. As Alija Krasnići explains, this manner of narrating shows that he himself discovers the world of literature first as a tradition-conscious Rom who is first a listener and later becomes an author. He does not consider the traditional values of his forefathers or the Romani way of life as something static which cannot be subject to change.

After the publication of over 40 books, numerous anthologies, articles for the radio and radio plays Alija Krasnići became a well-known figure in Romani prose with international reputation and is one of the very few Roma writers who write prose in Romani. Other Roma writers like Menyhert Lakatos or Mateo Maximoff also have written novels, but exclusively in Hungarian and French respectively.

The appearance of the book is estimated by the Romani media in Serbia and Macedonia for being of major importance for the region. Furthermore, it also attracts the interest of Western publishers and a German translation of the books is planned.

The Romani text of the book will be soon available on the virtual Romani Library at

(JPG) Ivan Olbracht, Nikola Shuhaj, the Outlaw, translation from Czech into Albanian by Afrim Koci (Koci, Tirana 2006) ), supported by the East Translates East Publications Project

Nikola the Outlaw is the most famous novel of Ivan Olbracht (1882-1952), a significant Czech writer and a political figure. It was first published in 1933 and translated into many languages, recently into English. Given the fact that only a few Czech books have ever been translated into Albanian, the present book is, beyond doubt, a praiseworthy attempt to fill in the void as a successful linguistic and cross-cultural go-between, building up on the popular story about the peasant-rebel who robs the wealthy, protects the poor, and kills only in self-defense.

(JPG) Philip Meyer, The Precision Journalism, translation from English into Albanian by Capajev Zera (Koci, Tirana, 2006), supported by the Media and Journalism Translations Project

Philip Meyer’s book is one of the pivotal studies on new journalism. It advocates for introducing social science research techniques and the discipline of method in general into the presentation of major stories. This, on one hand, claims the author, would make the work of the reporters accurately stated and marked by intellectual depth, and on the other - would uphold the values of the libertarian individualism, which has traditionally constituted the role of journalists. Such an approach tries to neutralize the contradiction between public and investigative journalism, and struggles to create “a learning community”, which would practice the objectivity of method, rather than the objectivity of result. The translation of Meyer’s study into Albanian is a key event in the field of journalism, because it goes against the prevailing role of mass media and the cheap information overload, which corrupts the media ethics.

Next issue of Page Back will be published in September. We wish all our readers a nice and relaxing summer!