From Moscow Book Fair to BookExpo America
One can hardly find a long line anywhere in Moscow these days, but visitors to the International Moscow Book Fair have to queue up for quite a while to get into the huge shiny building. They are eager to enter the International Moscow Book Fair, which is the most notable book event in Russia. It is an annual fair. And this September is no exception. More than 1500 participants from 57 countries are taking part this time. The schedule is very busy: about 500 events in 5 days. But to a delegation of 15 American publishers and translators that came to the Russian capital the fair is very special. It is a rehearsal for an upcoming project ReadRussia that is going to be a central event at BookExpo America in 2012 where Russia is to become a guest of honor. The ultimate goal of their visit is to bridge relations with Russian publishers and to discuss opportunities for Russian contemporary literature in the US. The event is supported by the Russian Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications and organized by foundation Academia Rossica that has been promoting Russian culture abroad for years.
Svetlana Adjoubei, director of Academia Rossica, comments on the importance of the upcoming project:
“Contemporary Russian literature is not known well in the US. We believe Russian writers deserve to be known better in an English speaking world. To realize this objective Russian government is setting up grants for translating Russian literature into English and organizing big promotional campaign which will run at American Universities, American bookshops, professional program will be held in BookExpo America in June 2012”.
Today very few modern Russian writers are known to a broad American audience, only Boris Akunin and Victor Pelevin are successful on the English language book market. But everybody hopes that next year is going to change the situation. A big delegation of 50 Russian writers is to participate in New York based BookExpo America next summer.
One of the American delegation members represents a US book industry that has been affiliated with Russian literature for years. Peter Meyer, former CEO of Penguin Books is the president of the Overlook Press, that has been translating and publishing modern Russian writers as well as the classics. Having come to Moscow this time prior to the beginning of the Book Fair he decided to discover provincial Russia to better know the realities of literature he is publishing. Despite the fact that he broke his arm he is not upset, but happy to deepen his knowledge of Russia. This is what he said to us:
“Because we have an interest in Russian literature, we also publish new names like Olga Slavnikova, Luidmila Ulitskaya and they are new. We even publish science fantasy by Maks Frai. I think we publish more Russian books than anybody else. I think we probably will have a stand at BookExpo, and most Americans don't know anything about it, but probably this organization will help bring some our authors in America and we will promote them”.
Book market analysts claim there is a real hunger for new names, new points of view and new stories in the USA. 35% of all issues in the US come from Europe, and only 13% are American books, according to the BookExpo America survey. People are getting more excited about works in translation.
Steven Rosato the director of BookExpo America says that the main goal for the fair team is to introduce Russian literature and Russian writers in the best and fullest way to American audience. Steven Rosato emphasizes:
“ I think it allows more and more writers to be discovered, because it is easier to come across them, it get samples of writings and that is why it is such a great opportunity for Russia. I firmly believe that culture is a gateway to understanding and appreciation, so the more people expose more understand the gate to appreciation for”.
BookExpo America is a global international event in which 35 countries and 25000 industry professionals - including around 800 authors from all over the world take part. In June 2012 American audience will get to know as many as 50 talented writers from Russia.