JANUSZ Leon Wisniewski, Hamid Ismailov, and Elchin Safarli were among the literary stars attending Kyrgyzstan’s first international book forum at the weekend, held in Bishkek.
The proceedings were opened by Roza Otunbayeva, ex-President of the Kyrgyz Republic, at the American University of Central Asia on Saturday (24 November), with more than 250 people attending a variety of events at the Open Central Asia Book Forum and Literature Festival, organised by Bishkek- and London-based publisher Silk Road Media.
A screening of the film adaptation of Polish international superstar novelist Janusz Leon Wisniewski ‘s novel S@motność w Sieci packed out Dom Kino cinema on Friday, before a question and answer session from the author. This followed screenings of a Turkish version of My Little Poplar in the Red Scarf, a story by Kyrgyzstan’s celebrated writer Chingiz Aitmatov, and a film about the life of Uzbekistan’s Soviet-era collector of Central Asian art, Igor Savitsky.
On Saturday, Azerbaijani novelist Elchin Safarli and Uzbek writer and translator Hamid Ismailov, among others, spoke of their works, with the latter launching his novel The Railway. A new book by the President of the Kazakh Academy of Sport and Tourism, Professor Kairat Zakiryanov, was also launched, detailing the contribution Turkic language and culture has made to the world. The Central Asian premiere of London-based theatre company Orzu Arts new production Mejnun took place at the Tunguch Theatre, at the Metro Pub.
On Sunday those attending took part in a speed-reading masterclass presented by Elena Bezrukova, with 13 international writers discussing their work later in the day, including Kyrgyz illustrator Dinara Chochubayeva and writer Kunai Medetkhan, and with the first translation into English of Begenas Sartov’s When the Edelweiss Flowers Flourish. Silk Road travels were the theme of British writer Nick Rowan book Friendly Steppes, which was also launched.
The winners of an international literary contest were announced in the categories of literary work; literary translation; illustration; and publicism; with a grand prize of being published in the UK by Hertfordshire Press and attending the London Book Fair in 2013 going to Zina Karayeva. Readings from authors attending the forum and contest entrants took place all last week at Sierra Café.
Marat Akhmedjanov, Silk Road Media publisher, said: “The Open Central Asia Book Forum and Literature Festival was not only about celebrating Central Asian writing, but also about bringing together regional and international publishers to discuss common issues and share experiences, to further improve the industry.
“We want to see more Central Asian writers on a world platform. Chingiz Aitmatov’s Jamilia was chosen by the UK’s biggest bookstore chain, Waterstones, as a book of the month this year, and we discussed at the forum how more of this can be achieved for
other writers from the region.”
Receptions for attendees were held at Giorgio’s Adriatico Ristorante; Vanilla Sky Café; and also Genatzvale Restaurant, which was organised by Generals for Peace. Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation has agreed to support the publishing of a book in a Central Asian language to be translated and published into another.
Monday saw the launch of Birds of Uzbekistan, a book of wildlife photography by Boris Nedosekov, as well as presentations by Chris Jolly of global publishers Jolly Learning, and Yelena Kopilov, of Global Finance School, both concerning educational publishing; and BBC Central Asia held a round table discussion on developing literature in the region.
The key sponsors of the book forum were the Dordoi Association; Air Astana; Etihad; Coca Cola; and the British Council, and the event was supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Kyrgyz Republic.
For more information, please visit www.ocabookforum.com