Why don't Belarusians choose modern Belarusian literature?
Classic Belarusian writers are known even abroad. Works by our writers Yakub Kolas, Yanka Kupala, Vasil Bykov and Vladimir Karatkevich have been translated into many languages. That was decades ago.
But when it comes to modern Belarusian authors, virtually nothing is known about them.
Meanwhile, the world is immersed in reading bestsellers of the last decade. And there are no Belarusians among the authors of these bestsellers.
Natalia Kudzina, seller:
Ten years ago, there were a couple of books but now four shelves are filled with them.
Natalia has been selling books by Belarusian authors for about a dozen years. She says that in recent years, the number of books by Belarusian writers has increased. Belarusian authors work in different genres.
Books do not lie long on the shelves but still the department of Belarusian literature is not the most popular in this store.
Internet is a platform where millions of books can be downloaded by anyone. One can buy Belarusian books even on the web.
Tamara Norko, dealer at an online store:
We are often asked about books by Belarusian authors. We receive such requests almost every day both in our physical store and over the Internet.
Viliya, an employee of an advertising department:
This is one of the warehouses of our publishing house. Here one can find all books written by Belarusian authors. This one includes about 30 different editions of various authors. Soon we plan to deliver them to shops and Belarusian libraries.
Despite the increasing competition from e-books and Internet sales, one of the largest publishers of Belarus annually produces tens of thousands of books. Viliya says that there are a lot of different works. But she noted that demand has fallen.
These novels are about something unusual, so unusual that not all might be interested in reading them. Another problem is a difficult writing style. We opened several books in Belarusian but words there are very tricky.
In short, literature is modern, but not very popular. Authors who put books to bed do not want to popularize their works. So people don't know much about contemporary Belarusian art.
However, Belarusians do not mind reading Belarusian literature. Minskers love historical novels, fantasy and postmodernism. All these books are on the shelves, at least in the library. But even the senior librarian remembered only two contemporary Belarusian writers.
Batrakova is very popular. Lisitskaya, too.
Natalia Batrakova, writer:
I believe that contemporary Belarusian literature is looking for its place and ways of development. These must be authors and books not only for 'domestic consumption' but also those that would bring the entire literature to a higher level. I mean at the level of emotions and soul.
Natalia Batrakova is one of the most reputed Belarusian writers. Her books do not need to be advertized in Belarus. She says that that the recognition of the reader is the most important thing for a writer. And in order to gain this recognition, one needs to work hard.