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An evening about new books for a forbidden culture

The 33 Books for a Different Belarus campaign was created in response to the repression against the independent Belarusian cultural scene, which began after the violently suppressed protests in 2020 and is still in full swing today.

The precarious situation affects all actors in the independent cultural scene, especially the independent publishers, who have repeatedly been targeted by the Belarusian state in the past. Today there is hardly any freedom for them in Belarus: many publishing houses have been forcibly liquidated and the production of books has been prevented.

The initiators of 33 books for a different Belarus, Sylvia Sasse, Iryna Herasimovich and Lukas Bärfuss, want to change this situation for at least 33 titles and try to have books from Belarus and for Belarus published by other European publishers. On the one hand, they want to enable concrete titles, but on the other hand, the campaign is intended to be an opportunity to think about freedom for culture other than along national borders.

The Gorki Theater café will also become a place where Belarusian independent culture takes place that evening. The initiators of 33 books Sylvia Sasse and Iryna Herasimovich present the campaign, the concept, the genesis and further plans. Together with the Belarusian publisher and poet Zmicier Vishniou, they also offer an introduction to the first volume, which was published as part of the campaign as a cooperation project between the Swiss publisher Diaphanes and the no longer existing Belarusian publisher Halijafy.

An anthology with poetry, theater texts and performance documentation from two literary associations that significantly shaped the emancipation of Belarusian literature from the Soviet tradition: the Bum Bam Lit movement and the Society of Freelance Authors.

The almost 600 pages collect texts for the first time that never had a chance to become part of the official literary and theater canon in Belarus and remained unknown even to a Belarusian audience. In this volume there is something that we are currently extremely lacking, says Zmicier Vishniou, and that is freedom.

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