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Writers and their legacy – Book week year after year

The book festival celebrated its 86th anniversary this June. This is a unique event even in Europe with an eight-decade long past.

The book week is a festival that has no equal in the whole world. You’re seized by an indescribable feeling of euphoria while rambling on the square. This is not a simple book fair but a special event that completely absorbs you, where you can experience what it’s like to buy a book in the publisher’s pavilion – a volume freshly arrived from the print which even may be dedicated by the author as well.


A unique cavalcade of books


The book festival owes its existence to Géza Supka, archeologist, journalist, and politician. According to his original proposition submitted during the yearly general meeting of the Hungarian Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Association (MKKE) in 1927, the Association was to organize a Book Week Festival each year. This event then fused together with the Children’s Books Days after the “2001 – Year of Reading” celebrations, finding its final form.


The 86. Book Week Festival was held between 4 and 8 June 2015. The MKKE asked the mayors of every prominent municipality of the country to let their village or city join this special event of Hungarian literature and book publishing. About 80 communities participated in the Festival nationwide; Budapest had several celebration spots and Kolozsvár also got involved in the occasion for the fifth time.  


On Vörösmarty Square (Budapest) there were 47 pavilions with about 200 national and foreign publishers premiering and selling their books. This year’s event hosted the publication of almost 350 new works written by Hungarian authors. The Festival was opened by Mátyás Sárközi, the Attila József Prize winner writer from London. 


Book Festival everywhere


One of the novelties at the Book Festival of Gyula was Anna Jókai’s “Válaszoltam,” in which the two-time Kossuth and Attila József Prize winner publishes her most important interviews. The Book Week was opened by her. The particularity of the Gyula Book Festival was that in the tents set up on the busy squares of the city visitors could choose between book fairs and exhibitions, not mentioning the numerous open-air programs. Apart from the stalls of Dürer Printing House, IQ Bookshop, and Hiszi-Map, participants could go to the city library’s pavilion where they had the chance to swap their old volumes – just like the year before.



In Miskolc there was a “poem tram” roaming the streets, offering “daily thought birds,” “poem bouquets,” and “reading corners” to passengers. The major goal of the event was to remind everyone of the pleasures of reading. Another highlight of the Book Week was the display of the giant book colored by the schoolchildren of Miskolc. This is can be seen in the Castle of Diósgyőr until this very day.


In Balatonfüred, the date of the Book Week coincided with that of the Wine-Jazz Festival, so book lovers were presented with numerous programs. The special guest of the Book Festival was László Lator Kossuth Prize winner poet, translator, literary historian. Many programs were created for the young generations: for example, there was a nonformal literature lesson held by Árpád Kollár, the president of the Young Writers’ Association, who made a drama class related to the Harry Potter books.


In Kolozsvár the event was organized for the fifth time, and its central theme was Sándor Makkai, writer and Calvinist bishop of Transylvania born 125 years ago. People could participate at thematic conversations concerning Makkai’s work as a writer and bishop, and they could share their opinions on the question of staying or leaving.


Written by Zsófia Tupi.

Translated by Mária Kenesei.


Photo: Canned Muffins

Published: Wed, 19/08/2015 - 12:13

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