Speech for Book Launch of A Girl From Neret
By Victor Bivell
Sunday, 25 March 2007
A Message From the Publisher
Guests, ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for taking the time to come here today to help launch this new book, A Girl From Neret, by Lefa and Kathy. I wish I could be there to thank you but Sydney is a long way away, and if all goes well I do hope to be in Perth for the New Year.
A Girl From Neret is the eighth Macedonian book published by Pollitecon Publications. While I am proud of all of them, I am particularly proud of this book because my own family, both my mother and my father, come from Neret, and because it is the first book about our village.
I remember many years ago sitting in a park in Sydney thinking that although up until then I had read several thousand books, I had never read any book, indeed nothing at all, about the village where my mother and father came from. This realization shocked me. I started to look for books and any written material about our village, but I could not find anything, in English or Macedonian.
I realized that while many people from other countries and other towns and villages around the world can pick up and read any number of books about their homeland, I could not. There was nothing about where my parents lived, what the village was like, how they lived as children and as adults, and what life was like.
Now, Lefa and Kathy have given us such a book. Now everyone from Neret and the surrounding villages can read about what life was like for our parents and grandparents who came from the village. For this I am very grateful, and I hope that everyone from our village can appreciate what they have done.
As we know, those cultures that write their own history are more likely to survive and prosper, while cultures that do not create quality cultural objects, such as books, can one day vanish without a trace.
Lefa and Kathy's book is such a high quality cultural object. It is a valuable thing that reinforces our identity and culture, and can make up proud to be Macedonian, proud of our history and who we are.
We should also thank Lefa for her bravery in telling her story. Because life in the village was not easy. The war period was hard on every one including the children. There were many child refugees from Neret, and what Lefa experienced and how she overcame those difficulties are well told in this book.
So thank you Lefa for telling us your story and a little bit about the people and history of our village. And congratulations to Lefa and Kathy for writing this excellent book. I am confident it will do very well and make us all proud.