Slovakia at Book World 2021

Longing and waiting for the world to return to normal is finally over and personal meetings are a possibility again. In September, over a thousand performers took part in the book fair Book World 2021 in Prague. And although attendance was slightly lower than in pre-pandemic times (aprox. 35 thousand visitors), books were being discussed and signed once again, with lines for an autograph reaching to a hundred meters. The guest of honor, France brought authors like Muriel BarberyLaurent Binet, or Benoît Duteurtre from Paris. Of course, there were many other great writers from all over the world, like David Mitchell or the Nigerian star Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, to name only a few. 

We showed over 400 titles from 40 publishers at our stand and Slovak authors took the stage -- various stages, to be exact -- to present their works in new Czech translations. Eva Maliti Fraňová talked about Arianina stratená kniha (Ariana's Lost Book, pub. Novela bohemica), Vanda Rozenbergová about Tri smrtky sa plavia (Three Deaths Are Sailing, p. Host), and Koloman Kertész Bagala together with Petr Minařík from the Czech publishing house Větrné mlýny introduced the authors' trio Zuska Kepplová, Marek Vadas and Balla.

We have also announced the winner of the 9th edition of the translation competion Danube on Vltava, for which the contestants translated an excerpt from Alena Sabuchová's Šeptuchy (Whisperers). The first prize went to Zuzana Kalinová, a young translator, but no rookie in the contest. 

The meeting with Belarusian authors, organized by the Embassy of the independent Belarusian culture and by the Bohemist Siarhej Smatryčenko, was a very strong moment for me. Especially the evening of poetry and music at the train station Praha Bubny hosted by Michael Kocáb, where a knitted portrait of the dictator Lukašenko was ripped up. All an ordinary reader knows from Belarusian literature is Nobel-prize-winner Svetlana Alexijevič, and now we had a chance to meet the best contemporary authors. There were 18 authors attending the book fair, Alherd Bacharevič, Andrej Chadanovič, Max Ščur, Kriscina Bandurina and Julija Cimafiejeva among them. Only four headed back home to Minsk after the fair. The rest will stay in various nooks of Europe, where they had found safety while facing persecution. To be there at their performance was also a gesture of solidarity with people who suffer under Lukašenko's dictatorship. 

Marek Vadas

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