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Comment by Zoran Panović

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Tarik Slaiki, President Of The Moroccan Publishers Association

Belgrade Book Fair As A Platform For Moroccan Writers

“When I read The Bridge on the Drina many years ago, before the idea of visiting Belgrade had even crossed my mind, I was already wandering – through this novel – the cities, worlds and cultures of Serbian society without having met or had a personal relationship with any of its people”

As a person with a literary and artistic background, and as a player in the field of the culture economy (publisher), I usually find myself unable to rid my mind of the “images” I formed through my readings of the literature, philosophies and arts of a specific country or region. When I read The Bridge on the Drina many years ago, before the idea of visiting Belgrade had even crossed my mind, I was already wandering – through this novel – the cities, worlds and cultures of Serbian society without having met or had a personal relationship with any of its people. This is what happens to me, in my visits to many world capitals, from the Far East to beyond the Atlantic Ocean. Even when I discover that the image I have formed in my thoughts, through literary worlds, doesn’t reflect the reality, life or geography of spaces in these locations, I can never rid myself of the initial impressions I’d previously built in my head.

Herein lies the power of text, when it migrates to culturally different societies, playing a decisive role, negatively or positively, in “creating” a certain image of a cultural group. In fact, my meetings with quite a large number of Serbian writers, creators and even ordinary people have deepened my belief that the “cultural economy”, through its creativity, has made our communication smoother, warmer, more human and very fruitful. That’s because culture – especially in its scholarly and literary aspects – leads to human values dominating the communication process, and driving everyone – despite all differences and backgrounds – to search for points of agreement, rather than disagreement, and pushes us to contribute to building bridges of communication.

All of these reflections lead me to discuss my recent participation in the Belgrade International Book Fair, during which I had the chance to address the Serbian public through a literary conference and convey mainly two points.

Based on my personal experience, and by attending two editions of the Belgrade International Book Fair, I can confirm that this Book Fair should be turned into a platform for Morocco to build a strong and effective link between the Moroccan creator and the Serbian reader

The first was to introduce to those in front me the fact that there is an authentic Moroccan “literature, philosophy, poetry and formation”, and that the Moroccan identity is characterised by openness to all global intellectual and artistic stripes, though without losing its own privacy and uniqueness.

The second issue can be summed up in the words of one of the attendees, who literally said, “Your intervention made me interested in learning more about Morocco, so that I could visit it.” I think that “culture has its politics” and it has its technical mechanisms that can play a major role in forming an “image” or rebuilding a relationship.

I truly believe that we should be freed of the traditional concept of fairs, as well as cultural promotion, because in addition to promoting books, we should search for mechanisms for cultural cross-fertilisation and build bridges of dialogue with cultural actors, writers and artists. I think that this trend has become a necessity, especially for Morocco, which has a genuine cultural and artistic impetus that only needs a good promotion!

I am convinced that the exchange of visits, through artistic and literary courses, and lectures, as well as the translation of artistic and literary works, remains urgent, particularly in the absence of an important accumulation between our two countries at this level.

Based on my personal experience, and by attending two editions of the Belgrade International Book Fair, I can confirm that this Book Fair should be turned into a platform for Morocco to build a strong and effective link between the Moroccan creator and the Serbian reader.

I would like to conclude by expressing my firm conviction that today’s wish will become a reality tomorrow, and I can even state with confidence that a bridge over the river of our two cultures has been built, and people will soon begin to cross it!