21 Jun 2023

CELA at Bookfest Bucharest: About Endings and Beginnings

Memories from Bucharest - By Iolanda Vasile, Translator PT-RO

The beginning of a summer, the end of a project, an expositional space briming with publishing houses, translators, workshops for writers and translators and lots of curiosity. In a nutshell, Bookfest 2023.

The largest and most well-known bookfair in Romania takes place annually at Romexpo, a landmark within the expositional area of Bucharest.
The dome like pavilion transformed, this year also, into a bustling hub of literary activity and for four days attracted avid readers, authors, publishers, and literary enthusiasts. 
As the flagship book fair in Romania, the event held at Romexpo showcased a diverse and extensive collection of books across various genres, including fiction, non-fiction, children's literature, academic works, and more. Visitors had the opportunity to explore a multitude of publishing houses, bookstores and cultural institutes, each presenting their latest releases, bestsellers, and literary gems.

As you closed your eyes, you could immerse yourself in the atmosphere, allowing your senses to awaken. The sounds of conversations, discussions, and book presentations filled the air. The scent of freshly printed books, coffee from nearby improvised coffee stands, and the anticipation of new literary discoveries tantalized the olfactory senses. And, as you walked through the expo, you could feel the texture of pages, the weight of books in your hands, and the excitement of exploring the vast array of literary treasures.
Italy, as the invited country for the 16th edition of the fair, made a great impact with its diverse and engaging program, encompassing over 30 events dedicated exclusively to celebrating Italy´s reach literary heritage, translations into Romanian and trends in the literary market. 
The events of this year´s edition of the fair were enhanced by a series of captivating workshops organized as part of the Connecting Emerging Literary Artists (CELA) project. These workshops provided a platform for us, emerging literary translators, to showcase our work in the project and promote part of our translation work and exchange ideas. The CELA workshops also aimed to nurture the creativity and skills of aspiring local writers, providing them with valuable guidance from established Romanian authors. 
Moreover, mostly in an informal manner, we had the opportunity to delve into related fields such as publishing, book marketing and navigating literary industry.
For most of us, the translators in CELA that participated in Bookfest, the fair meant also the end of the project and, probably, one of the biggest realizations the festival brought was that we are not alone in this craft. The inclusion of the CELA workshops within the fair´s program enriched our overall experience within the project and celebrated, besides the emerging voices that were promoted, the establishment of a network that could long serve us as translators. While translating into multiple target languages offers its own set of challenges, there is a unique sense of camaraderie and shared exploration when translating from the same source language. As a translator working from Portuguese, for example, having fellow translators who are also familiar with the intricacies of the language opens up a world of shared doubts, questions and discoveries. Having a fellow detective of words, someone who understands the challenges and joys of translating from the same language, is precious. It provides both a support system and a source of inspiration. Equally working with a mentor inside the program, reinforced the idea that translation is not a solitary endeavor, but a collective effort to bridge language barriers and convey meaning across cultures.

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