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News 02 Nov 15

Festival Brings European Authors to Tirana

The ‘White Sea’ festival has brought writers from all over the continent to Albania, where few people are familiar with the literature of their nearest neighbours.

Fatjona Mejdini
 On Friday, many waited in line to get books signed by the Serbian novelist Vladimir Arsenijevic. Photo: BIRN

The second international literature “White Sea” festival gathered authors from all over the Europe in Tirana in an attempt to revive the cultural life of the Albanian capital.

Organized by Institute for Democracy, Media, and Culture, the festival gives European writers a stage to hold dialogue with each other and include a wider audience while discussing their work.

Students were the most interested in attending the sessions of the festival and hopefully interacting with the writers.

On Friday, many waited in line to get books signed by the Serbian novelist Vladimir Arsenijevic.

His novel "In the Hold" which has won the NIN Prize in Serbia, was translated into Albanian in 2012, one of the few Serbian authors to reach Albanian readers.

A survey of perceptions of Serbia in Albania published on October 27 showed that 79 per cent of Albanian had never read any book by a Serbian author.

Arsenijevic told BIRN that one reason why Albanians do not read Serbian authors is because they cannot find their novels translated into their language. He believes it is the same situation in Serbia, and it should change.

 “We don't get translated by each other. Artists in the region know more about European art than what happens on our stages,” he said.

“Sometimes you are really blind to something that is close to your eyes. We need to intensify the positive communication in the region,” he added.

Arsenijevic says that governments and institutes should do more to promote and the visibility of regional art.

Terezia Mora, a Hungarian-born author awarded in 2013 with a German book prize, told BIRN that organizations like the festival help spread good literature in Albania.

“This is a perfect environment especially for young people in Tirana. They have an opportunity to gain their first impressions of international literature," she said.

The literature festival has also launched a reading marathon called “Tirana Reads” in which people passionate about books read pieces from their favorite authors to audiences.

Another highlight of the festival was the “Across the Borders” workshop at which young writers and photographers participated.



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