The opening of the Book Fair was also an opportunity to give out several awards for outstanding achievement in publishing, printing, literature and book design
The 21th Book Fair was opened with an award ceremony at the Cankarjev dom art centre on Tuesday, 29 November. The key speaker Boris Pahor, acclaimed Slovenian writer from Trieste, used the occasion to express concern for the evaporating language awareness.
As a representative of the Slovenian minority in Italy, Pahor observed that the functioning of Slovenian publishers abroad did not suffice to preserve the national spirit. He believes that the priority of culture should be to create unified identity.
The opening of the Book Fair, which closed on 4 December, was also an opportunity to give out several awards for outstanding achievement in publishing, printing, literature and book design.
The Schwentner Award for the advancement of publishing, book selling and promotion of readership culture went to Franc Bole, the director of the Catholic publishing house Ognjisce. Bole is credited with starting the monthly Ognjisce 40 years ago, in an environment adverse to religion.
Best literary debut award went the collection of poems "Nizki toni" (Low Key) by Stanka Hrastelj. Barbara Jursic Terseglav was awarded for her translation of Jose Saramago's acclaimed novel "The Gospel according to Jesus Christ". The award is given out by the Association of Slovenian Literary Translators.
Best book design awards were bestowed to six volumes of diverse genres, among them Goethe's "Faust", designed by Veronika Saje for the publisher Sanje and "Svetovne pravljice" (Fairy Tales of the World), designed by Peter Skalar and illustrated by Alenka Sottler for Nova Revija.
Moreover, prior to the opening of the fair, a ceremony was held to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the "Bralna znacka" reading competition, with President Janez Drnovsek addressing the participants.
Drnovsek praised the long tradition of the competition which promotes literature in primary schools. He said it was "hard to imagine how many children have participated in the competition and how many books have been read".
The president believes that by influencing values, reading forms one's view of the world. He said the impact of the books we read was hard to estimate, however, he considers it great. "Books help Slovenians become more beautiful persons," he concluded.
Education Minister Milan Zver used this occasion to underscore the importance of literature in spite of the dominant new media. "Books are the glasses enabling us to observe the world," Zver said.
"Bralna znacka" was founded by teacher Stanko Kotnik and writer Leopold Suhodolcan. Today it comprises 140,000 young readers and 5,000 tutors promoting readership through talks, clubs, projects and gazettes.
The Book Fair, organised by the Printing and Media Association at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia and the Cankarjev dom arts centre, featured around 80 publishers. Accompanying events included public debates at the fair's café, forums of publishers, presentations of new books, shows for children and young people, to name but a few.
Source: Slovene Press Agency STA