From 7th to 9th November 2013, the British publishing house Silk Road Media and its Hertfordshire Press imprint, will host the Open Central Asia Book Forum and Literature Festival, at the Yunus Emre Centre in London. The event follows on from first Open Central Asia Book Forum and Literature Festival, which took place on 24-25 November, 2012, in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, with a total of 1,300 attendees – the first such event since independence. It featured appearances by international literary stars including Janusz Leon Wisniewski (Poland), Hamid Ismailov (UK and Uzbekistan), and Elchin Safarli (Azerbaijan).
This year, the event, which is being held in London in order to encourage English readers to explore the world of Central Asian literature translated into English, will also focus attention on the development of the publishing sector and hopes to raise publishers’ awareness of the potential of Central Asian literature on the global market. A number of celebrated Central Asian authors, including Hamid Ismailov and Kazat Akmatov, will be present as well as British authors with works relating to Central Asia.
Books surround us from childhood: fairytales our parents read us; textbooks at school and beyond; what we read outside of formal learning; ultimately a blossoming architecture of imagination. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the efforts of governments were concentrated on maintaining economic stability. No one paid much attention to the promotion of reading and book publishing. As a result, this sector in Central Asia now faces a number of issues: there is little support infrastructure for new writers; fewer reprinted editions; and limited exposure for new publications.
Providing students with modern textbooks is essential in education and preparation for the workplace; however the book assets of many libraries and schools are becoming out of date. As a result, few people outside of Central Asia have heard of the great authors and poets that these countries have produced and new authors from the region struggle to get a voice outside it. The Open Central Asia Book Forum hopes that attitudes from foreign readers and publishers will change by attending the festival and discovering a whole new array of literature.
National literature can often also serve as an international business card, attracting academia and tourism, as well as promoting greater regional, cultural and social understanding between the nations of the Central Asian region and Europe.
Central Asia is not on the international literary festival circuit as yet, despite its astonishingly rich cultural heritage, and there is limited interaction between domestic and foreign writers. The launch of the Open Central Asia Book Forum in the UK is a significant and potentially vital step to bringing the regions and their talented authors closer together.
The programme of talks, book launches, plays and receptions begins at midday on Thursday 7th November with a welcome ceremony at the Yunus Emre Centre, followed by a roundtable at the BBC on literature in Central Asia for invited participants. On Friday 8th November, the forum gets fully into swing with a midday screening of Dessert of Forbidden Art, a documentary preview of the work of Russian Igor Savitsky in saving a treasure trove of art worth millions of pounds which are now on display at a museum he founded in Uzbekistan. A literature festival will showcase the work of over ten different authors from 6 countries in the region and the UK and is followed by a reception including traditional Central Asian food. Amongst individual author talks and showcases of Hertforshire Press’ most recent publications, a contest is being held to judge the work of Central Asian authors in a number of different literary and illustration categories, with the winner having their book published by Hertfordshire Press. The awards ceremony will be held on Saturday 9th November after Mejnun, a Dervish spectacle by Orzu Arts has been performed in front of a London audience.
Entrance is by ticket or invitation only. Be sure not to miss out on yours! http://www.wegottickets.com/
Visit www.ocabookforum.com for more programme information