Playwright and journalist Matei Visniec was the honorary president of the Gaudeamus International Book Fair
The honorary president of the 2017 Gaudeamus International Book Fair, playwright and journalist Matei Vişniec, said in the opening of the Fair that Romania is extremely competitive at cultural level and he praised the idea of choosing the European Union as guest of honor of the 2017 edition of the Gaudeamus Fair.
“Romania has a chance and its chance is culture” said playwright Matei Vişniec at the debate entitled “The Europe of theater and writers – the circulation of artistic values as the foundation of Europe” held at the pavilion entitled “Home in Europe”.
Matei Vişniec became known in the 1980s as a poet and later as a playwright. His plays, which were widely circulated in the literary environment, were forbidden on the Romanian stages. In 1987 he left Romania and settled in France where he worked for Radio France Internationale. His plays, in the French language, were issued by such publishing houses as Actes Sud-Papier, L’Harmattan, Lansman, Crater, L’Espace d’un instant, and his name featured on theatre posters in more than 30 countries.
Over the past years Matei Vişniec has become known as a novelist. The Dustbin Man. The Woman as a Battlefield (2006), Panic Syndrome in the City of Lights (2009, a novel that won the prize of the Cultural Observer Journal), Mr. K Released, Word Cabaret (2012), The Dealer in Openings to Novels (2013, winner of the Augustin Fratila prize for best novel, of the National Prose Award of the Iasi Newspaper and of the High School Students’ prize for the most liked book in 2013, at the International Literature and Translation Festival in Iasi), Shoe type Loves. Umbrella type Loves (2016) are some of his novels. Critic Ion Bogdan Lefter talked about Matei Vişniec’s artistic complexity at the Gaudeamus Book Fair.
Ion Bogdan Lefter: “Matei Vişniec is first of all a poet, with a very personal touch, which he also developed in his plays. He is also a very important prose writer. The profusion of new novels that he writes every 2 or 3 years, the most recent being published by Polirom, has brought him a new segment of readers. Theater lovers are generally more numerous than poetry lovers, and fiction readers represent the majority of readers, therefore all the prose books by Matei Vişniec were taken over and included in the Top10+ collection of the Polirom Publishers, a collection of wide circulation.”
Next listen to Matei Vişniec advocating for novel writing at the Polirom Publishers pavilion at the Gaudeamus Fair:
Matei Visniec: “One of the reasons why I am writing novels is that, for me, literary genres are like children, I love them all, be they poetry, essay, novel or drama. Poetry has helped me grow up, drama has formed me, and novel writing has opened my eyes to diversity. But, at a certain moment, I wrote a novel out of frustration, I felt frustrated that my plays needed intermediaries to reach the public. They needed a theater manager, a director, actors and stage designers. And all these intermediaries started to bother me at a certain point. I did not like the idea of depending on them. I preferred my writing to reach the public without intermediaries. So I have written novels out of the wish to create a direct link between readers and myself.”
At the Gaudeamus Book Fair Matei Vişniec also spoke in favor of reading.
Matei Visniec: “I would like to tell you that, if you read poetry, drama, novels or any good literature books, you will open in your hearts windows towards the others and you will become yourselves windows opened towards mankind, imagination and freedom. I believe that, in a country, freedom can be measured. Such a measuring instrument must exist. And I also believe that the degree of civilization in a country can be gauged through the people’s capacity to love literature, art and drama. Literature gives your freedom. If we don’t tell our children to read books and discover literature, to tell stories, we risk transforming them into mutants. At the Gaudeamus Fair I could see very many children accompanied by their teachers. It is a book fair, but also an education fair and a place where we can start a reflection process: how we educate our children to avoid turning them from thinking people into consumers. It is very important for us to remain citizens with a critical spirit and not consumers in a consumerist society.”
Matei Vişniec’s writing activity in Romanian and French has brought him many awards. In Romania, he won the Prize of the Writers’ Union, the Prize of the Romanian Academy as well as the Prize of The Union of Theaters in Romania - UNITER for Romanian writer with the biggest number of plays staged. In France, he won, on several occasions, the Press Award at the International Theater Festival in Avignon, the European Award granted by the Society of Drama Authors and Composers (in 2009) as well as the Jean Monet European literature Award in 2016.