letters from macedonia

One of the negative consequences of the so-called “period of transition” in Macedonia which started, as in most Eastern European countries, at the beginning of the 1990s, and which is still going on in the Balkans, was the closing of a large number of bookstores. The privatization of the publishing industry during the transition period as well as the desire of the new owners to get rid of large unprofitable spaces—a result of the significant drop in book demand which in turn was the result of the dramatically decreased purchasing power of the population— were the reasons why a large number of bookstores had to close down. Today, a decade and a half later, things are moving in a different direction: new bookshops are being opened and most of them function as cafés/bookshops. A few of them, like the bookshop at the “Tochka” (Dot) Cultural Center, are only one part of a much wider concept of exhibition spaces which host debates and symposiums dedicated to the work of artists from Macedonia and around the world. Dubravka Ugresic and Guyatri Chakravorty Spivak, the world-famous writer and theoretician, have been among the participants at these symposiums. These are sure signs that the previously frozen Macedonian cultural life is experiencing a thaw of revival.

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