The 14 ° Book Fair of Tirana has just ended. For five days, from 9 to November 13, the entire Albanian-language editorial production, in original and in translation, was put on display to the delight of readers of all ages.
This year the Fair has registered a record: the participation of 80 publishing houses, a goal never reached before. Eighty publishers, for a country that, like Albania, has three million inhabitants, is an impressive number. A result achieved thanks to the ever-growing presence of publishers from Kosovo and Macedonia, which this year participated to a greater extent than in previous editions. A highly respected literary production, an unmissable showcase of new authors as well as names by now established in the Albanian literature. Some examples: between the texts in the original language, the essays by Arshi Pipa and Nasho Jorgaqi, all the poetic and narrative production of Dritëro Agolli, Maks Velo, Visar Zhiti. Among the foreign authors in translation, Orhan Pamuk, Herta Müller, Umberto Eco and many others. There have been debates, meetings with the authors, performances dedicated to children's literature. In short, an unmissable opportunity for those wishing to have a complete overview of the Albanian language culture, and of what from the rest of Europe is translated and appreciated in the Balkan area. An event that also caught the attention of the Economist: in an article published today, the prestigious British newspaper deals with the 2011 Book Fair. It so rarely happens that European newspapers talk about Albanian literature that we hastened to visit the website of the online newspaper. In fact, it took us a while to find the article: in the Culture section, where it would have been obvious that it was, it wasn't there. Looking through the various sections, we arrived at the "Blogs" area: and finally here it is, under the heading "Eastern Approaches" (more or less, "Looks to the East"). The title is interesting: "All the Fun of the Tirana Book Fair", which means: "The funniest things in the Tirana Book Fair".From reading the article, we learn in order that: the stands were taken by assault by the crowds anxious not to miss the last best-seller; that the focus of attention was the book by Elena Kadare, which fascinated the local press for its revelations about the real and / or alleged betrayals of the illustrious husband; that the editorial event of the year was the book by Edi Rama, who in the days of the fair sold 8.000 copies, making Sali Berisha upset that snubbed Rama's publisher stand; that on the day of the settlement of Basha, at the town hall of Tirana a sacrificial rite was made by slaughtering a sheep, "a practice that dates back to the Ottoman era"; that a new biography of Enver Hoxha came out, indeed "the first serious biography of Hoxha written so far". To conclude, “another surprise” is told, that of a Serbian stand that sold kebabs and beers outside the Fair. We read with interest that it would have angered "Kosovars and Albanian nationalists", and that the Serbs would be made to leave. But perhaps, the reporter adds, there is a much more prosaic explanation: the Serbs left a day before the closing of the Fair, because the visitors had stuffed themselves with meat and beer, taking out all the available reserves. End of article. End of the fun. We remain with the curiosity, still unsatisfied, of knowing what themes, authors and cultural movements have been discussed at the 14 Book Fair in Tirana. But perhaps not much more could have been expected: if it comes to the Balkans, it seems to have changed little over a hundred years ago, when it had become famous (to the point of becoming the title of a book, “Trouble in the Balkans ", John LC Booth, 1904) the phrase of a reporter who, faced with a reality of which he knew little or nothing, began his articles saying" There will be trouble in the Balkans this spring ":" There will be casino in the Balkans , this spring ”. http://www.economist.com/blogs/easternapproaches