Yerevan World Book Capital: 8 months of infinite reading

Yerevan World Book Capital: 8 months of infinite reading

Nuné Melkoumian | Yerevan

31 December 2012

(Foto Shutterhacks, Flickr)

On April 22, Yerevan became the 12thcity to be designated World Book
Capital by Unesco. A look back at the most significant projects of the

It has been almost eight months since Yerevan became the 2012 World
Book Capital designated by UNESCO. This distinction was transferred
from Buenos Aires to Yerevan on April 22. Every year on this day,
which is also the World Book and Copyright Day, a new city receives
the title of World Book Capital. Interestingly,Armenia’s 12th capital
Yerevan has also become the 12th World Book Capital in 2012.

`I congratulate the city of Yerevan, which has presented a
particularly interesting program with many different themes, including
the freedom of expression, as well as several activities for children,
who will be the readers and authors of tomorrow’, said Irina Bokova,
Director-General of UNESCO at the conclusion of the meeting of the
selection committee which was held at UNESCO Headquarters on July 2.

500 years of Armenian printing

During these eight months, Armenian government implemented the program
submitted to UNESCO in 2010. It is symbolic that this year Armenia
also celebrates the 500th anniversary of Armenian printing. Five
centuries ago, in Venice, Hakob Meghapart printed the first Armenian
book with Gutenberg’s invention of printing. In September, Armenian
prime-minister Tigran Sargsyan visited the German city of Mainz, where
he participated in the opening of an exhibition in the Gutenberg
Museum dedicated to this anniversary.

`Printing and the creation of the Armenian alphabet at the turn of the
5th century – said the Armenian Prime Minister in Mainz – created a
solid basis for the future cultural and spiritual development of the
Armenian people’.

The cultural and spiritual achievements of Armenia played the main
role in creating an interesting program for the whole year. Many of
the events were organized by the Ministry of Culture, which has also
been overseeing the participation in book fairs all over the world
during the past several years. It would be impossible to tell about
the hundreds of events that took place during the past eight months,
so we’ll try to take a look back at the most significant projects of
this year.

One of the first international book fairs of the year, the Bologna
International Children’s Book Fair, took place in Italy in March 2012.
Among 66 other countries Armenia presented children’s national
literature. Presentations dedicated to the 500th anniversary of
Armenian printing and Yerevan World Book 2012 capital where also held
in Bologna.


The formal opening took place on April 22, when Yerevan officially
became the 2012 World Book Capital by UNESCO. A number of amazing
open-air events all over the city attracted Yerevan citizens and
tourists. Theatre, dance and poetic performances and concerts ran
throughout the day. On every square children painted on the ground,
which made the city even more colorful.

One of the largest events, ArmBook Expo, started on April 21 at
Cafesjian Center of Arts – the newest and the most significant museum
of modern art in Yerevan. The exhibition included 1,800 books from
Argentina, Austria, Germany, Brazil, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia,
Japan, Lebanon, Spain, Switzerland and other countries devoted to
Armenians and Armenia. Guests from Buenos Aires, which held the title
of World Book Capital during the year 2011, participated in ArmBook
Expo. Among others, famous writer Jorge Luis Borges’s wife, Maria,
came to transfer the title of World Book Capital. A catalog devoted to
ArmBookExpo presented all the books that will be donated to the
National Library of Armenia after the exposition at Cafesjian Center
of Arts.

On April 20-25 the 6th All-Armenian Writers’ Forum was held in Yerevan
and Tsaghkadzor. The writers came from Armenia, the Republic of
Nagorno Karabakh and 21 countries that host the Armenian Diaspora.
More than 100 writers participated in the forum.

But the most incredible spring gift was the concert of the famous
Italian singer Andrea Bocelli. He performed with the Armenian
Philharmonic Orchestra and Div4s quartet. Thousands of people came to
Liberty Square to listen to the great Bocelli.

The «Msho charntir» book

The number of Yerevan’s monuments increased during the last eight
months. In April David Yerevantsi, a famous sculptor of Armenian
descent who lives and works in France, presented a monument entitled
“Life of Eternity”. It is dedicated to the history of the famous «Msho
charntir» book, which was divided into 2 parts during the Armenian
Genocide. It is notable that at the most tragic time fugitives from
the Armenian Genocide tried to take books with them. It was important
to save the history of the whole nation with the help of the books.
Two women saved the parts of the huge and heavy «Msho charntir» book
and now it is kept in one of the biggest book depository of
Matenadaran. Another prominent monument is a statue of a climbing man,
which is created from letters of 19 different alphabets. It was
brought from Argentina by the mayor of the World Book Capital 2011
Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, who visited Yerevan in April.

The exhibition `An eternity of writing’ was featured at National
History Museum, where the Museum of Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin,
the Matenadaran, the History museum of Armenia and the National
Library presented their exhibits. This was the first joint exhibition
of the major museums of Armenia.

A lot of open-air events were organized in the summer. A Reading
Festival in the garden in front of the Cafesjian Centre of Arts took
place on June 21. During the festival people donated books to the
libraries of villages and cities located near the borders of the
country. Many school libraries there have a shortage of books for
children. During the past eight months a number of events involved,
among other things, collecting books for schools and libraries in

The village of Hovhannes Tumanyan

The fall had its share of interesting events. A beautiful autumn fairy
tail – the International Puppet Festival, took place in the middle of
September in village Dsegh, the birthplace of great Armenian poet and
writer Hovhannes Tumanyan. The choice of the location was a tribute to
Tumanyan’s impact on Armenian literature for children – he was the
author of fairy tales, poems and novels for children. Puppet theatres
from Lithuania, Russia, Germany, Denmark, Iran, Georgia, and France
came to Lori Province, where Dsegh is located. The beautiful nature of
that part of Armenia inspired the participants. The festival was
organized by the Armenian Centre of International Puppet Association
of `UNIMA-Armenia’ and supported by UNESCO. An exhibition presenting
newest illustrated editions of Hovhannes Tumanyan and other Armenian
writers was launched during the festival.

In October, the Ministry of Culture launched the `Back to the Book’
third annual festival. The event was organized in Khnko Aper National
Children’s Library. The festival included exhibitions, fairs,
roundtable discussions, lectures and even fairy tale reading for

In four months, Yerevan is going to transfer the title of the World
Book Capital to Bangkok. Yet, it is too early to summarize. The
Armenian Ministry of Culture has a condensed program for the winter
and the first two spring months.