The thirteenth edition of Fabula beckons you to visit the City of Literature, as Ljubljana can proudly be called from this year onward (we have become part of the UNESCO Creative City Network), between February 27 and March 7, 2016; this year’s edition of the festival, titled The Newcomers, trains the spotlight on the current issue of refugees and presents a variety of their stories, from the completely fictional to those written by life itself.
Fans of great authors and wonderful books again won’t be disappointed – Fabula’s inexpensive pocket issues will await you in bookstores from mid-February. We’ll spend time with acclaimed guests from the worlds of literature, philosophy, journalism, etc., at Klub Cankarjevega doma and numerous other venues all across Ljubljana as well as in other cities – for the first time ever, Fabula will also be visiting Trieste and Zagreb!
The festival will be preceded by the traditional Prose-a-thlon, with storytelling battles for the monetary prize raging from Štajerska to Primorska and concluding with a finale on February 28 in Ljubljana. Fabula will also be announced by three Fabula before Fabula events that will take place in February; in this year’s edition, these events are connected with the festival’s focus as well and will be hosted by Maribor (Home Is where I Write), Novo mesto (To Leave One’s Tribe) and Trieste (Identity Smugglers).
Fabula will be opened on February 27 by German author Matthias Göritz, who is visiting Slovenia and Slovenian readers for the first time, with an outgoing, filmic novel that will be accompanied by live music performed by composer and pianist Mitja Reichenberg. The central place among the guests of this year’s festival is certainly taken by Cees Nooteboom (reading on March 2), the Dutch candidate for the Nobel prize whom we’ve been asking to come visit Slovenia for a while now. Juan Gabriel Vásquez is among the most compelling young authors of Latin American literature and is lauded by giants such as Vargas Llosa, Franzen, Fuentes, etc. Vásquez will introduce himself (live on March 4) to Slovenian readers with a suspenseful, unsettling novel dealing with the bloody period of Escobar’s cartel wars in the 1990s. And the literary conclusion to this year’s Fabula on March 6 will take us to the European far north – Icelandic author Sjón, whose writing credits include some of the songs performed by his compatriot Björk, will present, but also tear down, a number of mythical conceptions of his faraway island; the concluding event will also have a musical guest – singer Katja Šulc, who will, of course, perform songs by Björk. All literary encounters will be held in English.
The Slovene guest of this year’s Fabula is illustrator and artist Samira Kentrić presenting her new graphic novel, which will be published as part of the Young Fabula programme and is intended for older teenagers, but is certain to captivate adult audiences as well. The book, titled A Letter to Adna, was created with the festival’s topic in mind: The Newcomers, the omnipresent European and global issue of last year that is sure to remain pressing in the future as well. A topic that asks uncomfortable questions about our European foundations, from matters of solidarity to freedom of movement, from liberties to hate speech, from security issues to the humanitarian disaster, from prudence to blindness, from tears to rage, from the sea to the barbed wire, etc., and remains far from resolved.
The guests in this year’s focus include exciting thinkers, passionate activists, journalists, experts. The events dealing with the festival’s focus will culminate in the February 29 discussion (in English) titled Barbarians at the Gates that will host a number of intellectuals who had previously dealt with the topic and are dealing with it now and will be doing so in the future. Igor Štiks will be talking to Dutch essayist Peter Vermeersch, who had written his essay Night Passangers specially for Fabula, to French intellectual and one of the most prominent representatives of Structuralism Jean-Claude Milner, and to Alenka Zupančič, Srečko Horvat and Teofil Pančić.
Newcomers will also be the subject of a discussion of another pressing issue – that of academic migration – as well as a discussion of child refugees with one of the foremost experts in the field, Anica Mikuš Kos, who had dedicated her life to taking care of children in the field. Moving on, Mitja Čander will talk to Serbian columnist and journalist Teofil Pančić, and you’ll also be able to attend a prepremiere screening of a documentary on the Slovenian-Italian border and its crossings with the acclaimed feature-story journalist Ervin Hladnik Milharčič as protagonist and co-screenwriter. Young Fabula focuses on the topic with a comics workshop for Ljubljana high school students (and also attended by youngsters from the Asylum Centre) led by Samira Kentrić, which will result in a piece of graffiti at a public location in Ljubljana; the young attendants will recreate a scene from the best graphic story created at the workshop and will be mentored in doing so by Jurij Lozić (ZEK Collective). And finally, the photo exhibition by Simone Sassen also speaks of comings and goings of a certain kind; her photos of graves of writers and intellectuals who are often buried far from their homeland will be exhibited from March 1 onward at Galerija Fotografija. The images are part of the project Tumbas, a common book with her husband, Cees Nooteboom.
Going forward, the festival’s closing day will show us that cultural and creative events provide us with more than just aesthetic pleasure and an intellectual challenge. We’ll say goodbye at 13:00, on March 7 at Kino Šiška, but only for a short while, as Fabula is only the first of a year’s worth of events in the capital and its region.
Early spring is thus reserved for Fabula: ten days of literary pinnacles, socially-conscious discussions, fresh ideas and creativity, from morning to evening each day. Have you started exercising yet?
Renata Zamida, Artistic director
The festival, again produced and organized by Beletrina, is possible thanks to the funds provided by the Municipality of Ljubljana and the Slovenian Book Agency. The main media sponsor is Radio Slovenia, and the festival also wouldn’t have been possible without our loyal co-producer, Cankarjev dom. This year we also extend special thanks to the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Goethe Institut and the Institut Français Slovénie, as well as all the venues hosting Fabula.