To be on the road with the Brussels Book Fair 2018

When the human body enters in motion a new world opens up before it. Be it by foot, car, train or other means of locomotion, the spirit wanders off to discover the marvels of nature, different climates and people, and also the self; surprise encounters may come one’s way and trigger questions heretofore unknown. On the road answers can appear like scattered coins in the shape of a map.

And it is that idea, Being on the road, that’s been chosen as the unifying theme of the Brussels Book Fair, which is taking place at Tour et Taxis from the 22nd until the 25th of February. More than four hundred publishing houses, bookshops, creative writing and illustration workshops, academies, cultural institutions, have come to share their passion for literature and the printed page. From different parts of the globe, authors come to meet and engage with their readers, talk about their past and current projects, they want to share their passion and despair, the secret joy they find in writing.

This weekend don’t miss the Brussels Book Fair 📚

Publié par Brussels Express sur samedi 24 février 2018


I’m not interested in simply denouncing that torture is bad,” said Asli Erdogan, Turkish journalist and fiction writer, guest of honour at the Brussels Book Fair. “Of course torture is bad, most of us will agree on that. But I prefer to write with ambivalence, to invite the reader to ask herself the questions that are pertinent. She has to reflect for herself; otherwise, society cannot change. And for that I need literature.

Asil Erdogan
Asil Erdogan

On Thursday 22nd, at Bozar Centre for Fine Arts, Erdogan talked about freedom of speech in Turkey with Kurdish writer and lawyer, Burhan Sönmez, and journalist Kerenn Elkaïm. On Saturday she held a discussion with Paris-based, Morocco-born novelist Tahar Ben Jalloun, where they discussed the changes that have happened in Turkey since the creation of the Turkish Republic, the gradual erosion of secularism and women’s liberties, and the grim situation in the Kurdish region.

I find Turkey fascinating, full of contradictions,” Erdogan said. “Women have been slowly losing liberties, and yet, the support for Erdogan among women is very high. Between 50 and 60% of women support Erdogan. And at the same time, women have been at the forefront of all the activist movements. This is Turkey. And despite all the terrible, painful things I have experienced and seen there, I am in love with my language, its musicality. I don’t ever want to lose it.”

On Friday night, the stand of Librebook bookshop hosted several writers who have made Brussels their home. Some of those present were: Damir Omeragić (BH), Veronika Valentová (CZ), Katarína Varsiková (SK), Mauricio Ruiz (MX), Loranne Vella (MT), Giuseppe Porcaro (IT/EN), Benito Martinez (CU), Aurelio Crespo (PT), Aile Alavee (EE), Pernilla Jourde (SE), Patrick Lowie (BE/FR) and Grażyna Plebanek (PL/EN). Librebook also invited EU Prize Winners: Carolina Schutti (AT), Gabriela Babnik (SLO), and Ioana Parvulescu (RO).

Librebook BBF
Ioana Parvulescu, Grazina Plebanek, and Carolina Schutti.

The fair has several forums and pavilions where discussions and panel debates are held. Europe’s square: dedicated to books and authors exploring themes of current interest in Europe; On the road: literature that takes its reader to enjoy other cultures and distant landscapes, past and present; Literary journey: popular and established writers; Words from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific: discovering the universe and voices from writers in other parts of the world; Thrillers and detectives; Destination teens and kids.

The book fair ends on Sunday evening, but not before some well-esteemed writers take the floor and greet their audiences. A few of them: Thomas Gunzing and Odile d’Oultremont, Myriam Leroy, Diane Ducret, Grégoire Delacourt, Olivier Guez, Viktor Lazlo, among many others.