Central and Eastern Europe turn pages at fair
A 5-year-old Chinese boy was quietly reading a book written in Czech with his mother sitting beside him.
Zhang Jun, 42, and her son were visiting the Beijing International Book Fair. “Choosing a good book for children is very important,” says Zhang.
“When my son doesn’t behave well, I read stories to him to let him know what is right and wrong.”
She says she personally favors children’s books from Europe. “When I was about 10, I read a Czech fairy tale called The Mole. I found the story quite warm and interesting, so now I like to bring children’s books from European countries for my son to help him build a better self,” says Zhang.
It’s the first time for 16 Central and Eastern European countries, including Poland, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and the Czech Republic, to be invited as the joint countries of honor to the book fair.
MartinHosek, second secretary of the embassy of the Czech Republic, who was in charge of the Czech’s book exhibition at BIBF, says his team purposely focused on books for children for the show.
“There are many illustrations in children’s books, and kids may like them even though they don’t understand the words,” he says.
Andrea Huseinovic from Croatia brought her picture books, which she painted together with her 13-year-old son, to Chinese readers with the cooperation of Guangxi Normal University Publishing Press (Group).
As well as the books exhibition, various activities such as films, cultural speeches, literature salons and dances were organized to serve the theme of “Kaleidoscope of Diverse Cultures” at the book fair.
Sarkozy Bence, general manager of Jelenkor Kiado Kft, one of the three key publishers inHungary, says: “We got a Hungarian version of Jiang Rong’s Wolf Totem and works written by Yu Hua. But the problem is, we lack translators to help us read more.”
Hosek agrees on the importance of translators.
“The cultural and literature communication between the Czech Republic and China has a long history, because we have some very good translators,” he says.
There are about 500 Czech books that were translated into Chinese, and Chinese novels like that byMo Yan and Su Tong have been translated into Czech.
China’s Belt and Road Initiatives have offered greater momentum for more publishing and cultural exchanges, says Lin Liying, vice-president of China National Publications Import& Export (Group) Corporation, one of the BIBF organizers.
A view of European publications on display at the Beijing book fair.