North Macedonia’s Skopje International Book Fair passes unnoticed by outside world

The 31st Skopje International Book Fair drew to a close this week, and information about the event remains scarce, but hopes were high that visitor numbers would exceed the record 45,000 that attended the 2018 edition.

This year the 8-day event, somewhat overshadowed by the Thessaloniki International Book Fair in Greece and the Turin International Book Fair in Italy, had Hungary as guest of honour and alongside the Hungarian contingent were 70 publishers from Denmark, Albania, Serbia and Kosovo, joining the North Macedonian hosts.

A pre-event press release from Sanja Kondarko, Skopje Fair project manager in charge of the Book Fair, said,

Considering the national interest and significance of the Book Fair, we expect active participation of the Ministry of Culture.

The fair was to have been opened by Minister without Portfolio Zoran Shapurikj and Skopje Fair Executive Director Daniela Gligorovska, with Sonja Stojmenska-Elsezer, President of the Writers’Association, one of the speakers.

The event happened days after the country’s first ever Macedonian Language Day, a new public holiday, which was on May 5, the anniversary of the day in 1945 when the Macedonian alphabet was officially adopted.

North Macedonia was formally known as Macedonia after the Yugoslav federation broke up in the 1990s, and was called by some Fyrom, but the title Macedonia caused problems with neighbouring Greece, which has a region called Macedonia.

The country is since February 2019 officially North Macedonia, but the language and people are just Macedonian, and the book fair avoided becoming embroiled in the debate by adhering to its title of the Skopje International Book Fair.

I’ll update this article as and when any further information about the Skopje fair emerges.

Meanwhile this post serves as a reminder that bookish events are happening all around the globe even if the western publishing industry doesn’t deem them worth covering.

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