Friday, September 14, 2007


L'viv is abuzz with activity these days. The big book fair (called Knigomania! or Bookmania!) has come to town. It is a national event that draws small vendors and major book publishers, as well as celebrities. Ukraine's first lady visited the book fair and her arrival was covered by the national news. Erik also thinks he may have seen the famous Soviet-era Kyrgyz writer Chingiz Aitmatov, but he is not really sure about that celebrity sighting (and he did not have his camera to snap a photo and check later). The fair even had book mascots - two people dressed as large yellow books (another missed photo op). It was a chaotic event with ravenous book-buyers pushing each other out of the way, at least at some stalls. Around 90% of the books fell into one of the following categories: textbooks, literature in translation, or classics. But, some stalls featured interesting, esoteric materials: magic and the occult, cheap romance novels complete with bodice-ripping covers, and everything from translations of the Da Vinci Code to the Kama Sutra. A couple of stalls featured Russian language books. While the booksellers were not harassed, they had to respond to light jabs like: "why are all your books in Russian? Don't you agree that the Ukrainian language is more beautiful?" The fair also sponsored a rock concert this evening that we briefly attended. Erik picked up a couple of books related to his research, and may try to take another look before the fair closes up shop on Sunday.

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