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Issue 30 - November 2006

Thursday 23 November 2006 by Maria Velichkova

East goes South. Istanbul Book Fair 2006

The Istanbul Book Fair celebrated its silver anniversary this year with the theme “25 years of the Book Fair – a Journey Story”, gathering publishers, professionals and readers from 28 October to 5 November 2006 at the Tuyap exhibition center.

Nearly 500 publishers and other organizations participated in the fair. At the same time, it seemed that the whole population of the multi-million city was determined to visit the fair, buy large quantities of books at considerable discounts, sometimes reaching to 50 – 70%, and get autographs from their favorite authors. The event was staged together with Artist 2006 – 16th Istanbul Art Fair and launched by an attractive group of musicians, playing around the premises.

(JPG) The Balkan “quarter” within the international presentations was formed by Albanian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Romanian, Serbian and Bosnian stands. There were 225 cultural events carried including a poetry reading organized by Janet 45 publishing house to promote the newly published anthology of Bulgarian literature, wonderfully translated into Turkish and part of the Open Door project for Bulgarian – Turkish cultural exchange. Maria Velichkova from Next Page foundation joined the vivid group of the poetesses and translators and used the chance to promote East Translates East program on a southern territory. Boundaries and languages were really vague and sometimes perplexing at the fair, where publishers at the Russian stand spoke Turkish and at the Albanian ones, Russian, and all that on the background of the cosmopolitan city, where history and modernity go hand in hand, and different cultures are layered in a patchwork.

Writing on demand for Romani children

(JPG) Writing is a solitary experience, but most of the writers need to share in a creative atmosphere their works to re-write and improve them or just to see how the audience will respond. To review and discuss stories in progress about the contemporary life of Romani children was the aim of the four workshops that took place at the end of October (Macedonia) and beginning of November (Bulgaria) and gathered over 20 young Roma who write for and work with Roma children. The workshops in Macedonia were organized by RCEC “Darhia” – Skopje with the support of the Swiss Cultural programme Pro-Helevetia in Macedonia and Open Society Foundation – Macedonia. Martin Auer, an author of over 40 childrens books spent two weeks in the two countries moderating the workshop discussions and advising the authors on the story writing process. The authors also exchanged experience in picking up topics from life, involving children in plot creation and story writing, and collaborating with illustrators.

Part of the workshops included sessions with Roma children and young people in the Romani communities to learn about their interests, hopes, problems and fears. The children took pictures of things they like and dislike and were asked to comment on their pictures. In this way they requested topics for the authors to write about. Despite the fact that many of the writers had set up titles and written stories, the creative atmosphere while meeting with the children inspired them to invent new stories and write about experiences and problems shared by the children. The young Roma created and discussed stories on how Roma children go to school, face difficulties and make friends, help their families to overcome problems, or just get to know the world out of their neighborhood.

(JPG) The workshops are a follow up to the international workshop Writing for Romani Children organized by Next Page in June 2006 and are organized within the framework Our Stories project supported by the European Cultural Foundation. The Roma authors from Bulgaria and Macedonia continue to work on the stories, part of which will be published in spring 2007. For more information on this initiative, follow the news on our web site or contact Sofiya Zahova, project coordinator.

First South-South Book Published


Hot off the press! The first book supported by South-South Translation Grants has been published. “Spirituality in the Land of the Noble: How Iran Shaped the World’s Religions” is now available in Arabic, published by Arab Scientific Publishers in Beirut. Two other titles supported within the South-South Translation Grants program framework are coming soon. For more information about forthcoming titles supported by the South-South translation grants program, please contact Natasha Mullins, Arabooks project coordinator.

New books published

(JPG) Victor Erofeyev, The Good Stalin, translation by Samvel Gasparyan (Areg publishers, Yerevan 2006), supported by East Translates East Publications Project

Although it is labeled as a novel, this book by the famous and highly controversial Russian author Victor Erofeyev reads like a memoir. Erofeyev himself defines his work as a type of ‘Shakespearean drama’, revealing the eternal opposition between fathers and sons, and embedding it into the ideological context of the Soviet time. Actually, the symbolic patricide, which frames the story, refers to the complex relationship between the author and his father – a Soviet diplomat and a Stalinist. A significant text for everyone who is biographically tied to the socialist regimes. And a wonderful read for all who enjoy pieces of history reabsorbed into fiction.

(JPG) Olga Tokarczuk, The Journey of the Book People, translation by Mara Makchanyan (Guitank publishers, Yerevan 2006), supported by the East Translates East Publications Project

This is the debut novel of the highly acclaimed, and commercially successful Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, which was published in 1993, and made her popular and loved by the critics and the audience. The plot is set in 17th century France, and follows two lovers’ quest for the meaning of life, which is symbolized by the Book. As many of Tokarczuk’s works, The Journey of the Book People has the structure of a parable or a myth, intoned by some Jungian influences and a strong sense of magic.