Soul for Minsk

Victoria Khomich and Olga Vovk, from the Belarusian National Technical University’s Scientific Library, have invented a method to produce interactive text

Victoria Khomich and Olga Vovk, from the Belarusian National Technical University’s Scientific Library, have invented a method to produce interactive text. The idea is that a reader can choose how to continue a story begun by an author. Importantly, the plot takes place in Minsk, so those writing the story need to have visited the places they describe.

Famous writer Andrey Zhvalevsky is headlining the Writing Minsk project. To join his 12 co-authors, applicants were invited to fulfil certain tasks, such as finding the smallest library in Minsk and photographing it. As a result, Mr. Zhvalevsky is ‘assisted’ by a literary radio programme host, an editor of a librarian magazine, two librarians, an economist, a BNTU student, a journalist, a game technician, a craftsman, the head of a charity project and an ecologist.

The co-authors gathered at a café to discuss where the main action should take place: in the Upper Town or Komarovka, Chizhovka, Vesnyanka or at the Circus. Four extracts were placed on the CityDog.by portal and users were invited to vote for their favourite options. A photo competition has helped seek out the spirit of the city, with Olga and Victoria wishing to find ‘whether Minsk has a soul’.

The final stage took four weeks to conclude, with the interactive Spirit of Minsk story written in Russian and Belarusian, featuring young Minskers: future physicist Nasta and future surgeon Kostik. They eventually discover the city’s spirit in a mirror. Project participants have researched the places where the major events of the plot unfold, to ensure a feeling of authenticity.

Of course, the story is not an artistic masterpiece but, importantly, people are interested in the history of their native city and in literary art. Let’s hope we see more projects of the kind in the future.

By Irina Petrova
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