Rhythm of the city » Ritamgrada | 59 IF SOMEONE TELLS YOU THAT BELGRADERS LOVE BOOKS, don’t take their word for it. Plan to meet in the Serbian capital at the end of October and visit the kingdom of literature that is circled in our calendars each year as one of those events that you simply cannot wait for. Even if you aren’t a literary fanatic, there’s something irresistible in themillions of colourful covers, the smell of newly printedpages, peoplewalking among the stands with lists of desired editions in their hands, captivatedwhile leafing through newly released books. e Belgrade Book Fair is a spe- “Forme the fair is a great lesson about time. Specifically, it was fifty years ago that I came to the fair for the first time, as a young student of the Academy of Fine Arts, and I had a dustman’s coat with a hood and I stole a book, Freni and Zui. I put it in the hood. As soon as theynoticed that therewas nobook, they started searching us all, but they didn’t find thebookbecause it didn’t cross their minds to look for it in the hood. Almost half a centuryhas passed since then, and I’ve been to almost every fair. Also, for me the fair is a lesson inmodesty, becausewhenaperson sees a billionbooks inone place, including capital editions, collected works, encyclopedias, he is absurdly prompted to sit down and write a new book. Madness, however, is stronger than reason, and I return home to write a new book.” cial place forall ofuswho lovetoread, but also for writers who can watch the process of people falling in love with their works on the spot. “Look for a book here that you will be able to love. Youmight therebybehelping this planet to survive,” saidMilorad Pavić speaking at the Book Fair 20 years ago, while the wonderful DesankaMaksimović stated that she is often sad here… “Look at the huge amount of secrets around you! I always feel more sad than happy at the Book Fair: if we lived for hundreds of years, we wouldn’t be able to open all these shells of the pearls of human thought, full of fires of the heart and storms of imagination”! And it all started at the Zagreb Fair, under the patronage of Josip BrozTito, wayback in1956. at inaugural fair was attended by many Yugoslavgreats, including IvoAndrić and Miroslav Krleža, to name just a couple. e very next year, 1957, the Book Fairwas held inBelgrade – immediately after the construction of themodernhalls was completed, and very quickly earned the epithet of a cult event. It is today considered the largest gathering place for representativesof thepublishingbusiness from all over the world, right after the fairs of Frankfurt and Warsaw. e Belgrade BookFair is anopportunity topresent foreignauthors andpublishers inBelgrade, alongside numerous domesticwriters, soover theprevious60-plus yearswe’vehad the opportunity to see and hear the greatest names of world literature. is aspect of the Fair was best explainedby IvoAndrić in1970, when he said: “Already at the first superficial glance one can see the desire for theFair tobe anopenwindowwitha double view, with a view for our person into the foreignbookworld and a view for a foreigner into the route and development of the book in the literature of our peoples”. And a man who came to every Fair forhalf a century, thegoodspirit of Belgrade, the chronicler of itspeople and time, Momo Kapor, began his relationship with the Book Fair as a student of the Academy of Fine Arts in love with Salinger… Još nije sasvim sigurno da li će Sajma ove godine biti, ali čak i ako ga ne bude – stay tuned. Dok bude Beograda, biće i njegovih knjiga It is not yet entirely certain whether the Book Fair will be held this year, but even if it doesn’t take place - stay tuned! As long as Belgrade exists, so will its books