Book Fair(y) in Istria was born in 1995 out of a bold gesture of one man to call a small book exhibition ‘at the end of the world’ and immediately after the war the 1stBook Fair(y) in Istria. It is founded on the spirit of the sixties and seventies, on the memory of the birth of a new city, urban and creative, distinguished by the creative force of the people of Pula, their courage to change the world from a geographical margin.
The thread has intertwined and stretched to this day, to today’s festival of books and authors, relevant and acknowledged on the Croatian, European and global level, original and authentic in its ways of presenting book-related content, in opening a space for a dialogue between authors and authors, between authors and readers, in setting cornerstones for an evaluation of tradition and contemporaneity. Therefore and moreover, as a fatal place of faith in oneself.
In its early days the Fair(y) squatted in the locations the city had given up on, and then it found home in an Austrian-Hungarian palace, the monumental building of the Croatian Defenders Home where every December, together with Pula’s book lovers, it hosts guests and pilgrims from all four corners of the world. Imperial corridors, concert halls and ballrooms become a stage for the largest book shop (and panel) in Croatia over these ten days. The Fair(y) displays titles published by over 200 publishers from Croatia and other countries, and books and hundreds of events attract up to 60,000 visitors. Discussions, symposiums, panels and roundtables, exhibitions, concerts and theatre performances gather dozens of creative voices, many of which have become part of the cultural memory of the city which does not lack in culture of memory: Umberto Eco, Orhan Pamuk, Péter Esterházy, Luko Paljetak, Claudio Magris, Alī Aḥmad Sa‘īd Asbar – Adonis, Irvin Welsh, Tess Gallagher, Nedjeljko Fabrio, Jiří Menzel, Alberto Manguel, Lyudmila Ulitskaya, Mirko Kovač, Daniel Dennett, Dragutin Tadijanović, Ece Temelkuran, Tatyana Tolstaya, Alexander Genis, Lyudmila Petrushevskaya, Oksana Zabuzhko, Erri De Luca…
The Fair(y)’s programme is based on interculturality, affirmation of internal and European regionalism, upholding and promoting the specificities of literary culture. Never biased, always in a dialogue, both the makers and guests of the Fair(y) meet in Pula, the marginal point of the social reality that does not give up on the catalogue of ideals shared – just like freedom.