Books come to visit
Last week, flags from 26 countries flapped in the chill February air, their movement reflected in the glass faзade of the National Exhibition Centre, BelExpo. With around six hundred exhibitors, there was enough variety for those hunting for interesting publications, and that’s without the 170 events that were scheduled in the program
By Veniamin Mikhalev
However, the event wasn’t limited to the walls of just one location. For example, the Academy of Public Administration under the aegis of the President of the Republic of Belarus hosted the presentation of books of the legendary series Lives of Remarkable People, from the Moscow Publishing House, Molodaya Gvardiya. The winners of the 53rd Art of Book National Contest received their awards in the Palace of the Republic. The round table ‘Creative Connections of Writers of Belarus and Russia Today’ was held in the Union of Writers of Belarus.
But here, in the building in the Yanka Kupala Street was a real freedom for book lovers. The central exposition was made in the form of an open book, a symbol of communion with spirituality and an invitation to co-operate, with the publishers’ stands resembling these symbols. It is not a coincidence, as the First Deputy Information Minister Lilia Ananich, explained, “The best slogan for the exhibition will be ‘In the Year of Hospitality, all books are our guests, all countries are welcome!’ An open book is an open country.”
Of course, the central exposition contained a tribute to a man, thanks to whom we will celebrate the 500th anniversary of printing in 2017 — the Polotsk citizen, Frantsisk Skorina.
A number of exhibitions immediately drew attention, namely Memory. To the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Belarus and Hockey Minsk. Book and Sport, where one could see real rarities from the collections of the Book Chamber.
The fair is created for both that wish to see, aod for those looking to purchase books. The fact that Belarusian books are in demand is confirmed each year by the amount of activity of the buyers. The Executive Director of the exhibition, Alexander Vashkevich, is happy that sales at the exhibition are growing, “Here, one can buy the best works of Belarusian authors, both on the stands of publishers, and in the department of the central bookstore, especially since there is a chance to buy them at lower prices because of the system of discounts.
The second floor of the exhibition centre was like a time machine. One climbed the stairs and stepped into the past: old postcards with images of Belarus, an old printing press, exhibits from the World War I and much more. In front of us there was an exhibition dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the joint project of the laureate of the Presidential Award ‘For Spiritual Revival’, Vladimir Likhodedov, the newspapers SB. Belarus Segodnya and Zvyazda Publishing House. Here was a unique opportunity to see exhibits from the country’s only museum of the World War I in the village, Zabrodie, created by the artist Boris Tsitovich, made more poignant by the fact that this year marks one hundred years since the beginning of the conflict. Postcards from his collection allowed you to look at it from both sides of the barricades. Here is a downed Russian plane; there is a German one… It is interesting to trace on the photos, how the appearance of our cities have changed, to find out what were the key buildings of the old days.
And here is another surprise. It is unlikely that many people have had a chance to flip through the pages of rare, 12th century manuscripts, but a facsimile edition of the Polotsk Gospel allowed everyone to do it. This volume was on a pedestal and was accessible to anyone. And there, wearing a bright blue and white sports uniform, young hockey players happily showed exemplars of the Encyclopaedia of Hockey, a wonderful gift for the upcoming World Championship, which will take place in Belarus later this year.
Minsk International Fair in the Year of Hospitality opened new perspectives for cultural and business co-operation. This point was stressed by the President of Belarus in his welcome to the participants of the 21st international book forum.