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Issue 8, October 2004

Sunday 31 October 2004

The Beginning of a Dialogue

Having the Arab world as a guest of honor at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair was widely anticipated as the beginning of a dialogue between Arab culture and literature and “the West”. Two parallel programs – by the Arab League and by the Fair itself – brought together numerous writers, translators, artists, intellectuals and publishers. For the publishers in particular this was a unique opportunity to draw attention to their productions. At the same time, the official presentation has sparked some controversy both within and outside the Arab world for its attempt to present such a vast and diverse region as a single cultural area and for ignoring the issue of censorship.

As announced in our previous issue, during the fair Next Page organized a public discussion on translation policies and practices in Arabic. Panelists included leading figures from the Arabic publishing community. The event was very well-attended by a predominantly Arab audience, and provoked heated debate. Despite its somewhat inconvenient location, the discussion was even attended by the German foreign minister Yoshka Fischer.

Romani Publications Project at the 6th International Romani Union Congress

Next Page was a guest at the VIth IRU Congress, which was held at Lanciano, Italy. Delegates from over 100 Roma communities took part in the event and voted for a new president, parliament, and other governing bodies. The representative of Next Page – Sofya Zahova, who is in charge of the Romani Publications Project , discussed with the president and the general secretary of the IRU possible opportunities for future cooperation.

East Translates East announces competition results

We can finally announce the long awaited results of the second competition of the East Translates East Publications Project. Perhaps because the deadline was right after the summer holiday, the total number of applications received was slightly lower than the previous round. However the range of the original languages was impressive – there were 15, including several proposed translations from Belarusian and one from Mongolian. To put it statistically – 13 of the 40 applications were approved by the international committee, and for a further 2 the decision is still pending.

The projects approved were:

-  ALEF publishing house
Vogrin, Joze: Television Viewer, translation from Slovenian into Macedonian

-  Balkani publishing house
Hristic, Jovan: Mediterranean Journeys, translation from Serbian into Bulgarian

-  Fact publishing house
Arlow, Uladzimir: The Requiem for Circular-saw, translation from Belarusian into Ukrainian

-  Fact publishing house
Bykaw, Vasil: Foot-messengers, translation from Belarusian into Ukrainian

-  Fakel express publishing house
Aksyonov, Vassilii: The Island Crimea, translation from Russian into Bulgarian

-  Idea-Press publishing house
Snyadanko, Natalka: A Collection of Passions, or Adventures of a Young Ukrainian Woman, translation from Ukrainian into Russian

-  Idea-Press publishing house
Choijiljav Choisamba: Conquest of Batu-khan, translation from Mongolian into Russian

-  Jaffa publishing house
Zolotuha, Valerij: The Muslims, translation from Russian into Hungarian

-  Oficyna 21 publishing house
Smilevski, Goce: Conversation with Spinoza, translation from Macedonian into Polish

-  Panorama publishing house
Adamesteanu, Gabriela: The Meeting, translation from Romanian into Bulgarian

-  Pavel Mervart publishing house
Krasnodebski, Zdislaw: The Fall of the Idea of Progress, translation from English into Czech

-  Sonm publishing house
Tishner, Josef: Thinking According to Values, translation from Polish into Bulgarian

-  Vetrne Mlyny publishing house
Anthology of Belarusian Short Stories, translation from Belarusian into Czech

-  Zangak-97 publishing house
Pavkovic, Aleksandar: The Fragmentation of Yugoslavia: Nationalism and War in the Balkans, translation from English into Armenian

Newly Published Books

-  Olga Tokarczuk, Prawiek i inne czasy (Calvaria Publishing House, Lvov 2004), trans. into Ukranian by Viktor Dmytruk, supported by East Translates East Publications Project.

This is the third novel by the world-famous Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, winner of NIKE - the most prestigious literary prize in Poland, whose works have already been translated into English, French, German, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, and other languages. In her first interview in English, Tokarczuk defines her books as “boxes within boxes”, as the voices of women gossiping, as video-clip narratives, as projection-screens, but mostly as old “things that hold memory”, as used by fortunetellers to read into people’s past and future. All this perfectly applies to Prawiek… - a novel which comes across both as a stylized fable and as a postmodern saga, reinterpreting the whole world through the eyes of a woman. The narrative’s complexity serves not only the postmodern techniques of Tokarczuk, but also her inner conviction that “the world is clearly becoming more feminine”. The literary expression of such feminization creates a new type of reader who wants to hear peripheral voices and experience the mystery of everyday life. Kitchens, bedrooms, childhood memories, dreams and insomnia, reminiscences and amnesia – these are part of the existential and acoustic spaces from which the voices of Tokarczuk’s fiction come.

Calvaria Publishing House has produced a beautiful textual and visual body of the Ukranian publication of Prawiek… Ivan Grigoriev has made a provocative graphic design in green – the author’s favourite colour. The design of the front cover includes a work by the young Ukranian artist Svetlana Karunska. Olga Tokarczuk highly appreciated the work of Calvaria and asserts that this is the best publication of her novel so far. The Ukranian edition of Tokarczuk’s novel was promoted at the 17th International Book Fair in Moscow (1-6.09.2004), and was submitted at the stand of the Forum of Publishers at the book exhibitions in Frankfurt and Pisa. Olga Tokarczuk attended the official presentation of the publication, which was held in Lvov at the 11th Forum of Publishers (16-19.09.2004).

“Cum se consolideaz? DEMOCRATIA”, ed. By Larry Diamond, Yun-han Chu, Marc F. Plattner, Hung-mao Tien(Polirom, Bucharest, 2004)

This volume is a follow-up to what the editors have called “the most memorable conference that any of us has ever attended – a four-day event held in Taipei from 27th-30th of August, 1995”. The forum brought together 60 leading scholars and practitioners of democracy from 25 countries from all over the world, focused on the issue of consolidating the new third wave democracies that have emerged since 1975. Two volumes have appeared: the first one – Themes and Perspectives – concentrating on issues of institutional design, civil-military relations, civil society, and economic development; and the second – Regional Challenges – addressing socioeconomic events in Southern Europe, Latin America, Russia and East Asia, especially Taiwan and China. The first volume, now translated and published in Romanian, brings together some of the world’s foremost scholars of democratization, such as Robert Dahl, Samuel Huntington, Juan Linz, Guillermo O’Donnell, Adam Przeworski, Philippe Schmitter, and Alfred Stepan. Will the new democracies manage to strengthen and sustain their democratic gains? Will democracy keep spreading and “infecting” other countries and regions? It seems that the authors included in this volume provide somewhat positive answers to these profound questions by seeing democratic consolidation as a discernible process which guarantees the legitimate framework of political power. The enthusiasm of the Romanian publisher is creditable, considering the fact that the consolidating democratic processes in the Balkans are still underdeveloped. Therefore the current publication immediately opens a debate on the relevance of the theoretical perspectives presented in the volume, and their possible “translation” and “accession” in the Balkan context.

“Rombiblio” in Action

The ongoing project “Rombiblio”, the main goal of which is to reduce the rate of disappearance of the Russian Romani literary heritage, has already managed to organize a virtual library - 49 books, written in the dialects of the Baltic Romani group, which are now easily accessible through and By the end of the project 30 more titles will appear on-line. So far, this is the largest collection of contemporary Romani literature ever presented on the web. At the end of 2003 “Rombiblio” was supported by Next Page within the frame of the Romani Publications Project.