One could say that FILIT refrained from appearing grand for one moment during this year’s edition, and this was not the result of oversight, but instead of a gesture of subtlety and elegance. This was the closing event, taking place on Sunday evening at the “Vasile Alecsandri” National Theatre of Iaşi, after the last of the “FILIT evenings”, dedicated to Norman Manea.
This year’s edition of the Iaşi Festival of Literature and Translation closed on an optimistic note concerning the future of literature. The stage of the National Theatre was the place where high-school students – precisely those people we’re tempted to believe have given up reading anything else apart from the books required for their graduation exams – selected their best-loved book for 2013.
After a brief introduction made by Camelia Gavrilă, the chief inspector of the Iaşi County School Inspectorate, a student from the “Emil Racoviţă” High-school made the announcement that Matei Vişniec was, in the teenagers’ opinion, the author of the novel they liked most. Negustorul de începuturi de roman (The man who sold first lines for novels), a novel that had been in competition with four other no less interesting books, was elected by a panel of judges consisting of 24 children from eight different schools.
“We might have been subjective at times, but we were honest in our choice,” Alexandra told the audience in her laudatio, a remark that was appreciated by Matei Vişniec, who was also invited on stage. “This award is very close to my heart. To discover that young people are reading your books is something extraordinary, it is the proof that you have not chosen the wrong career,” said the author, visibly moved. “When I look at these young people I think to myself that all is not lost,” added Matei Vişniec on an optimistic note.
As expected, the author used his moment on stage to call on the audience to keep reading, but his call was made not in a didactic manner, but instead in a form that was devoid of unnecessary frills, while being filled with a lyricism deeply anchored in the current reality. “There are many techniques to understand mankind, but literature is the only one that can probe deeply enough to be able to tell us truths that are genuinely interesting,” the author concluded.
Matei Vişniec declared his conviction that the only way to salvation is the written word. He underlined that FILIT seems to him one of the most effective and courageous methods for putting in practice what he believes is the solution to life’s problems. “This festival is an act of cultural resistance in a consumer society,” the writer said, thus expressing his praise for an initiative that causes a transfiguration, and not just for Iaşi. ” I vow to believe in the written word and write well,” he said before leaving the stage.
Called on stage by the host of the “FILIT evenings”, Irina Păcurariu, Dan Lungu, the manager of FILIT, addressed those in attendance with a speech that was brief, but perfectly directed, judging by the reaction of the audience. “We’ve had five wonderful days, helped by the guests, the public, the city. It looks like we’ve made it again this year! I’m sorry it’s over,” admitted the festival’s initiator, and then promptly deflected the audience’s attention towards the rest of the festival’s “pillars”. Dan Lungu presented the team behind the hundreds if not thousands of hours of work, inviting each of its members to the stage. Without much fanfare, the moment was discreet enough as to not tire the audience, while showing respect to all these people to whom we should, in fact, attribute the success of the festival.
“FILIT would not be what it is were it not for its volunteers” – this was probably the most expected phrase of the evening. Young people of all ages overflowed onto the stage and lived a much-deserved moment of glory, as the audience was, rightfully, generous with its applause. They were at last as committed, as cheerful and as energetic as last year, and seemingly in larger numbers that last year. At the next edition of FILIT, volunteering might not be an option for some of them. This would be a loss, compensated only by the fact that, undoubtedly, FILIT has ensured in them a future audience. Dan Lungu will doubtless have many guests next year.