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1,300 people attend Kyrgyzstan’s first book forum

More than 1,300 people attended 30 events in Bishkek as part of Kyrgyzstan’s first such forum, opened by ex-President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Roza Otunbayeva, and with appearances by international literary stars including Janusz Leon Wisniewski (Poland), Hamid Ismailov (UK and Uzbekistan), and Elchin Safarli (Azerbaijan).

The winner of the festival’s literary contest, Zarina Karayeva, and forum organiser Marat Akhmedjanov appeared on the breakfast show of Kyrgyzstan’s NTS television station on 26 November, with coverage also featuring in 20 other media including Vechernii Bishkek, the BBC World Service, K-News, News Asia, The Times of Central Asia, Uzbek and Tajik media, and Mir.

A film showing the highlights of the Open Central Asia Book Forum and Literature Festival is available to view here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ck0MIvqpm3g

Discussions are under way to host next year’s forum in either Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, or in Bishkek again, not only thanks to the media interest the Bishkek programme of events received, but also because the forum is aimed at showcasing the literature and publishing of the entire Central Asian region.

A screening of the film adaptation of Polish international superstar novelist Janusz Leon Wisniewski ‘s novel S@motność w Siecipacked out Dom Kino cinema on 23 November, before a question and answer session from the author. This followed screenings of a Turkish version of My Little Poplar in the Red Scarf, a story by Kyrgyzstan’s celebrated writer Chingiz Aitmatov, and a film about the life of Uzbekistan’s Soviet-era collector of Central Asian art, Igor Savitsky.












On 24 November, Azerbaijani novelist Elchin Safarli and Uzbek writer and translator Hamid Ismailov, among others, spoke of their works, with the latter launching his novel The Railway. A new book by the President of the Kazakh Academy of Sport and Tourism, Professor Kairat Zakiryanov, was also launched, detailing the contribution Turkic language and culture has made to the world. The Central Asian premiere of London-based theatre company Orzu Arts new production Mejnun took place at the Tunguch Theatre, at the Metro Pub.

On 25 November those attending took part in a speed-reading masterclass presented by Elena Bezrukova, with 13 international writers discussing their work later in the day, including Kyrgyz illustrator Dinara Chochubayeva and writer Kunai Medetkhan, and with the first translation into English of Begenas Sartov’s When the Edelweiss Flowers Flourish. Silk Road travels were the theme of British writer Nick Rowan book Friendly Steppes, which was also launched.

The winners of an international literary contest were announced in the categories of literary work; literary translation; illustration; and publicism; with a grand prize of being published in the UK by Hertfordshire Press and attending the London Book Fair in 2013 going to Zina Karayeva. Readings from authors attending the forum and contest entrants took place all last week at Sierra Café.

Marat Akhmedjanov, Silk Road Media publisher and forum organiser, said:

“The Open Central Asia Book Forum and Literature Festival was not only about celebrating Central Asian writing, but also about bringing together regional and international publishers to discuss common issues and share experiences, to further improve the industry.”

“We want to see more Central Asian writers on a world platform. Chingiz Aitmatov’s Jamilia was chosen by the UK’s biggest bookstore chain, Waterstones, as a book of the month this year, and we discussed at the forum how more of this can be achieved for other writers from the region.”

Receptions for attendees were held at Giorgio’s Adriatico Ristorante; Vanilla Sky Café; and also Genatzvale Restaurant, which was organised by Generals for Peace. Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation has agreed to support the publishing of a book in a Central Asian language to be translated and published into another.

On 26 November there was the launch of Birds of Uzbekistan, a book of wildlife photography by Boris Nedosekov, as well as presentations by Chris Jolly of global publishers Jolly Learning, and Yelena Kopilov, of Global Finance School, both concerning educational publishing; and BBC Central Asia held a round table discussion on developing literature in the region.

The key sponsors of the book forum were the Dordoi Association; Air Astana; Etihad; Coca Cola; and the British Council, and the event was supported by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Kyrgyz Republic.

For more information, please visit www.ocabookforum.com

All photos by Ocabookforum.com

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