The 7th Warsaw Book Fair as a celebration of Hungarian literature
Hungary is the Guest of Honour of the seventh Warsaw Book Fair. From 19 to 22 May, at the Hungarian stand visitors can experience interesting literature: starting with the classics, through fascinating historical studies, to contemporary books, as well as various aspects of the rich culture of that country. Among more than 20 new Polish translations, you will find the last writings of the recently deceased Imre Kertész “Ostatnia gospoda” (The Last Inn) (W.A.B.), (pseudo)Hasidic short stories by Géza Röhrig, known for his Oscar-winning “Son of Saul” (Austeria), or a collection of fragments of diaries and short novellas by one of the most interesting Hungarian writers of the early 20th century – Géza Csáth, titled “Opium” (PIW). The presence of Hungary at the WBF marks the beginning of the Hungarian Culture Year, which will last until the end of 2017.
For this year’s edition of the Warsaw Book Fair, Hungary has prepared a very broad offer of Polish editions of Hungarian publications. They will include authors already well-known to Polish readers and highly valued by them, such as Imre Kertész, György Spiró (“Salon wiosenny”, Czytelnik), Sándor Márai (“30 srebrników”, Zeszyty Literackie), as well as those only recently discovered by Poles, such as Géza Csáth (“Opium”, PIW). There will also be some strong book premieres, such as the Polish editions of “It’s OK, I Will Understand” (“Nie szkodzi, kiedyś zrozumiem”, Świat Książki) by Johanna Bodor or “The Hangman’s House” childhood stories in historical context by Andrea Tompa (“Dom kata”, Książkowe Klimaty – Węgierskie Klimaty), as well as “Linear Bar Code”, a collection of short stories by Krisztina Tóth (“Linie kodu kreskowego”, Książkowe Klimaty – Węgierskie Klimaty). The publishing house Media Rodzina prepared two collections of Hungarian fairy tales and legends for children: “Korona i miecz – legendy i baśnie węgierskie” by Dénes Lengyel and “Bajki węgierskie” edited by Márta Gedeon. The publishing house Węgierskie Klimaty will also propose “Bartók i drewniany książę” by Margit Garajszki.
Anniversary crop of books
This year we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, so the Hungarian stand must definitely include some historical publications: texts written by Gyula Csics in his youthful years and published by the Polish Institute of National Remembrance (“Budapeszt 1956 – Dziennik dwunastoletniego chłopca”); essays by Csaba György Kiss (“Powinowactwo wyszehradzkie”, StudioEMKA); a book on Hungary from the series on beginnings of states by Stanisław Sroka (“Węgry”, Wyd. Poznańskie) as well as monographs on the role of Hungarians in the Polish Legions of 1914-1918 by Endre László Varga (“Węgrzy w Legionach Polskich 1914-1918”, The Central Archives of Historical Records) and on the attitudes of Hungarians to the Warsaw Uprising by Maria Zima (“Węgrzy wobec Powstania Warszawskiego”, Ajaks). Some guaranteed treats include: a collection of (pseudo)Hasidic short stories by Géza Röhrig (Austeria), the cult comic by Pál Korcsmáros “Jenő Rejtő: 14-karatowe auto” (timof i cisi wspólnicy), songs by Ferdinand Gregorovius (Olsztyn: Pracownia Wydawnicza ElSet) or Roman Marciniak’s stories about the history of Hungarian wines in old Poland (Muzeum Wilanów). In addition, two literary magazines – FA-art and Zeszyty Literackie – decided to dedicate a considerable part of their current issues to Hungarians and their works.
The ones who made it possible to present such a great number of book premieres and promotions were the excellent and hard-working translators of these books. They are the first ambassadors and reviewers of the works written in a foreign language. Without their perfect knowledge of foreign language and great sense of literary trends and currents that are interesting for both Hungarian and Polish readers alike, many books would have never appeared on the shelves of Polish bookstores.
Attractions at the Fair and beyond
At the Hungarian stand, visitors will not only have the opportunity to purchase books but also to meet the people behind them. Numerous meetings with authors have been planned, accompanied by discussions on the state of reading, publisher speed dating, a panel meeting with translators, activities for children, dance workshops conducted by the FolkEmbassy group and musical workshops using the Zoltán Kodály method, cooking shows, and exhibitions (Pharmacy of Art; The Paul Street Boys; Imre Kinszki – Ottó Kaiser: Budapeszt then and now; What is the significance of János Háy and Fortepan). There will also be an opportunity to meet selected authors outside the premises of the Fair, at a variety of soirees and accompanying events. These will feature discussions about history as well as poetic slam concerts – a form that is highly popular in Hungary – by Gourmand, performing together with slam artists such as István Pion, Márton Simon and Kristóf Horváth aka Színész Bob.
The Year of Hungarian Culture
This extensive presence of Hungary at the 7th Warsaw Book Fair is related to the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the commencement of the Hungarian Culture Year in Poland, which will be officially celebrated on 19 May 2016 at the Inauguration Gala in Teatr Polski in Warsaw. The series of festivals and events that will last until the end of 2017 will include numerous concerts, exhibitions and other attractions aimed at spreading knowledge about the rich Hungarian culture among Poles of all ages. These meetings will also be aimed at deepening the Hungarian–Polish friendship so that the well-known proverb is once again filled with meaning.