Interview with the two representatives of the Romanian Ministry of Culture, who hosted the stand – Iuliana Mircea and Alexandru Popescu, about the Bulgarian reactions on the Romanian stand’s edition in Sofia, about the Bulgarian translation school of Romanian literature and about the secret, which helps the Romanian literature conquers the region
Iuliana Mircea is a councillor in the department “Written Culture and Contemporary Creation” within the Romanian Ministry of Culture. Alexandru Popescu is an inspector in the same department. Both of them represented the Romanian Ministry of Culture at the Book Fair in Sofia (10-15 December 2019). The Book Fair exhibited books in Romanian language and hosted a lot of events with the participation of other creators from Romania, the Republic of Moldova and Bulgaria: Varujan Vosganian, Florin Irimia, Elise Wilk, Elena Vlădăreanu, Lora Nenkovska, Emil Andreev, Svetoslav Jelev. The Bulgarian translation of various books, written by the authors from Romania and the Republic of Moldova were launched. Also, a discussion on “literatures in mirror” (the Romanian and the Bulgarian one), was held. It dealt with the problems of edition and promotion of national literature abroad and with the need for communication and deeper cultural knoweldge between Romanians, Moldovans and Bulgarians.
We are in the seventh edition of this stand of Romanian Ministry of Culture in Sofia. In the beginning, could you please tell us the history of those editions? How is this initiative seen by the Bulgarian public? How satisfied is the Romanian Ministry of Culture?
Alexandru Popescu: Our participation started in 2013, when the base of our cooperation with the Bulgarian Book Association was founded. In 2015 we were invited as the primary country, as a special guest of the book fair. We gladly accepted, knowing that there were already a lot of translations from Romanian into Bulgarian language at that time – both of classical literature and of contemporary literature. The edition was a real success and we decided to continue our participation at this event. It proved to be a wise decision, as we take into account the fact that after 2014 the book fair enjoys numerous visitors. Also, a lot of translations from Romanian into Bulgarian language take place annually.
This year you have a big book stand in Romanian language and a lot of events. How do you evaluate the reactions this year?
Iuliana Mircea: This year they were more numerous that other time. People were interested in Romanian literature. They are willing to read the Bulgarian translations of Romanian literature and we appreciate that people are interested in it. We hope that this tendency will remain like that.
We know that Bulgaria is a country where various translations of Romanian literature take place. Some say there is even a Bulgarian school of literary translations from Romanian language. To what extend is the tendency owed to the Romanian Cultural Institute and the Romanian Ministry of Culture?
Alexandru Popescu: First of all, we need to mention the Romanian Culture Institute, which gives support to the translations from Romanian language into Bulgarian language. I also mention the Ministry of Culture as a perpetrator, because it participated at this event. We bring Romanian authors in Bulgaria and present them together with the translators before the public. But before everything else, we need to mention the translation school. There is a department of Romanian language in Sofia, and another one in Veliko Tarnovo. There are professors dedicated to teaching Romanian language and literature. There are wonderful translators, such as Vanina Bozhikova, Lora Nenkovsla. They are the promoters of the most important Romanian works of literature in Bulgaria, together with Hristo Boev, Stiliyan Deyanov, Ognyan Stamboliev. Among them is also Ivan Stankov. They are precious people, very good translators, professors, who promote romanian classical and contemporary literature in Bulgaria. We can also mention the financial support within the network TRADUKI. They support the translations in both directions. We would even want an increase in the number of translations from Bulgarian into Romanian language. That is how the number of Romanian books, translated in Bulgaria will also increase.
How does this attachment of Bulgarian readers and Bulgarian translators towards Romanian literature is seen in Romania?
Alexandru Popecu: It surprises us pleasantly. We also see it among the public in the former Yugoslavia. Unfortunately, there are cultural factors in Romania, which ignore the regional public’s attachment for Romanian literature. Our literature suffers as a result of that. We hope will somehow resolve that.
What is the secret of Romanian literature’s success abroad?
Iuliana Mircea: The success comes together with the authors. We have excellent writers – Dan Lungu, Nora Iuga, Mircea Cărtărescu. We have very good contemporary authors.
Is there something in Romanian literIature’s topics or in the writing style, which explains this success?
Alexandru Popescu: I think that the role of translators is important. They are the second author. They make the books more understandable to the local public. The topics are familiar, popular, on European level with Balkan influences or with influences from the former Austro-Hungarian Empire. We are in a common space. That is how we understand and find resonance in Bulgarian, Serbian, Croatian literature.
Iuliana Mircea: Something common is that we were under communism. We have things in common in our experience.
What should we wait for in 2020 in the Romanian-Bulgarian relations in literature? What would be accomplished through the support of the Romanian Cultural Institute of the Ministry of Culture? Would there be more translations? Would there be a new edition of this stand? What do you know?
Alexandru Popescu: You see the situation in Romania. It is never predictable. We don’t know. But our desire is to be present in Sofia in 2020 too. There will be new translations from Romanian in Bulgarian language. We should have success the next year too.
Because this is a necessary event?
Alexandru Popescu: Absolutely.
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