Bookbash

The Prague Post

BookWorld Prague expands its cultural scope and goes multimedia this year

Book lovers of the world rejoice! BookWorld Prague is back, this year with more than 400 programs in four days, including readings, discussions and film screenings. As always, the main exhibits will be at Výstavište, with related activities spread around the city. This year’s themes focus on other cultures, support for literacy programs and the general message of “Get Out and Read.”

“This is one of the biggest literary events in the country,” notes Dana Kalinová, managing director of BookWorld.

A plethora of publishers are coming to town, ranging from Latvian fiction publisher Adria Books to Zemc sveta, a Czech publisher of travel books. There are also plenty of writers on tap: The lineup includes Danish author Helle Helle, Czech author Ivona Buezinová and Scottish scribe Quintin Jardine.

The theme of the 12th annual Bookworld is Literatures of the North, with Latvia as the guest of honor. “There are 500 years of history between Latvia and the Czech Republic,” says Kalinová. “Because of their history and what the people have suffered, their literature is very strong and Czechs can relate to their works.”

Visiting Latvian authors and poets include Juris Kronbergs, Inga Abele and Sandra Kalniete. Other aspects of Latvian culture are on the bill as well. “Latvia managed to prepare a multicultural program,” says Kalinová. “And multiculturalism is a dimension that suits literature.”

Comics and films

A majority of the events have a multicultural tie this year, due in part to the involvement of the Multicultural Center Prague. Highlights of the multicultural offerings include a presentation of the book The Spanish, The Empire and Bohemia in the 16th and 17th Centuries; a look at traditional Japanese crafts and craftsmen; and a discussion with the authors of the book Tibet, Guarded by Gods.

“Literature is very rich, but sometimes it has trouble marketing itself,” notes Kalinová. “Multiculturalism is a great marketing tool; it stretches to theater, music and social topics.”

BookWorld Prague has also made that stretch, adding BookWorld Cinema, a program of movies adapted from books. Three of the 13 will be shown with English subtitles: A Classic, a Finnish film that tells the story of an unsuccessful writer who makes up fantasy worlds in order to please his publishers; Cold Light, an Icelandic film that wonders what could be worse than knowing your own future; and My Jealous Barber, a Norwegian film that looks at human laziness and the unwillingness to adapt.

There’s another reason for including films. “We are trying to attract young readers, and film is a strong medium for them,” says Kalinová.

Another way is through comics and graphic novels, both of which will feature prominently in the program and exhibitions. Lucie Lomová, of Anca & Pepík fame, will sign her comics. There will be theater performances for children (though not in English), and puppet performances in Czech and Latvian. There’s even a performance by a historic Viking group on the schedule, complete with dancing, fighting and singing.

Gorillas and politicians

BookWorld is making a strong pitch to the very young reading set. “Our campaign, ‘Growing with the Book,’ is a program to promote reading to kids,” says Kalinová. “This promotion is a big part of the event’s identity.”

There will be numerous activities surrounding this theme, oriented mostly toward teachers, librarians and parents. The director of the Dutch Foundation for Collective Promotion of the Book will discuss his program, and there will be a discussion on reading programs in France, Latvia and Finland. A Book Competition Awards Ceremony will recognize winning advertising slogans to promote reading.

Other awards on the schedule include the Premia Bohemica Award, for people who promote Czech literature abroad, and the Miroslav Ivanov Prize for nonfiction.

And it’s obviously an election year. The chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, Mirek Topolánek, will be signing What Do I Think; former Prime Minister Miloš Zeman will be signing The Rise and Fall of the Czech Social Democracy; and former President Václav Havel will be signing Briefly, Please. Interview with Karel Hviždala, Notes, Documents.

Other events of note (not in English, unfortunately) include “The Disclosure,” a presentation of the hit “reality show” that featured gorillas in the Prague Zoo, and a chance for VyVolení fans to meet moderator Tereza Pergnerová and get an autographed copy of her new book, Addicted to More than Love.

Last year, about 30,000 people attended BookWorld events, and organizers expect the same this year. Kalinová has a few brief suggestions on what to do: “Attend exhibitions and programs, buy books and get them signed.”