The 8th International Literature Festival hosted by the city of Timisoara, in western Romania, was held between the 23rd and the 26th of October
The 8th International Literature Festival hosted by the city of Timisoara, in western Romania, was held between the 23rd and the 26th of October. This year's theme was not a comfortable one, as it focused on the relationship between historical, social and economic freedom and literary creation. A debate attended by the Polish anti-communist dissident Adam Michnick and the Romanian historian Adrian Cioroianu opened the festival.
Writer Robert Serban, the president of the Timisoara Festival described the event for us:
"It was an extraordinary evening. The debate lasted three hours, which was one hour longer than planned, and the audience would've stayed even longer. It was a fabulous evening, and Adam Michnick told so many stories, including about his meetings with president Vladimir Putin and the former president of Romania, Ion Iliescu. He also talked about his time in prison, because we should not forget, as writer Mircea Mihaies said, that Adam Michnik was a hero. He spent six years in the Communist prisons but he never gave in, he was strong enough to protest and fight for freedom. It's a man that counts hugely for the 1989 moment. I repeat, it was a formidable night."
The second night of the Timisoara Literature Festival hosted a debate titled 'three hypostases of literature born from history's graveyard'. Here is Robert Serban, president of the Festival, with details about that:
"The guests were three writers from different environments, one of them being the Russian writer Evgheni Vodolazkin. The Humanitas Publishers has published four of his volumes: Laur, the Aviator, Soloviov and Larionov and Brisbane. Many people from Timisoara had asked us to invite him to the festival, they were so eager to meet him. Then, from Portugal we had Jose Louis Peixoto, a great writer, dubbed 'the second Saramango'. His books have been published by Polirom. The Romanian literature was represented at the meeting by Lucian Dan Teodorovici, who is not just an excellent prose-writer and one of the most translated authors abroad, but also a man who's done a lot for Romanian literature, as the director of the Iasi International Festival of Literature and Translation and of the Romanian Literature Museum in Iasi. I participated in the Iasi festival last month, and I can say it was great. Festivals like that manage to do an extraordinary thing, to build a bridge between the great people who write and the wonderful people who read."
The program of the Timisoara Festival, titled 'From West of East/ From East of West' included first public readings and debates focused on the main theme of the edition: 'Freedom between history and literature', chosen to mark 30 years since the anti-Communist Revolution of 1989. One special moment in the program was the night devoted to the local writers Daniel Vighi, Viorel Marineasa and Petru Iliescu, and also the dialogue on freedom, freedom of speech, and the role of writers in Timisoara, the first Romanian city free of Communism.
Here is Robert Serban once again:
"These literature festivals are extremely important right now, at a time when book consumption is not that high. I'm not sure whether the effects will be long-lived, but it's wonderful to have these two hours when you can listen to writers reading from their own books in the splendid Baroque Hall of the Art Museum in Timisoara. You can take part in discussions, you can ask questions, you can get a writer's signature, and this is great for a person who loves literature. Even if statistics do not look that great, we must be active and defend the art that we believe in. And it's encouraging to see so many people coming from other towns and cities to meet a writer or to listen to a book reading. The hall was full of people and there were even people standing, and it was no effort for them, because they love literature. At the festival in Iasi I had meetings with high-school students, who asked great questions. And I'm saying this as a journalist, who knows what a documented question sounds like. They asked questions that clearly showed their interest in literature and writing. Therefore, one must live with the hope that by organizing such events, the number of those who love literature will grow and people will keep believing in the power of story-telling. And it's our duty, of those who believe in literature, to keep doing this."
The Timisoara International Literature Festival is a project that was initiated in 2012 with the aim of carrying on, for the larger audience, the compared studies tradition initiated by the 'The Third Europe' Foundation