At Norway’s WEXFO: IPA Names Its Prix Voltaire 2024 Shortlist

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The five nominees shortlisted for 2024 IPA Prix Voltaire come from Palestine, Serbia, Russia, Turkey, and Belarus.

PEN Ukraine’s Tetyana Teren remembers Victoria Amelina during the May 27 announcement of the Prix Voltaire shortlist at WEXFO. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

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Five Nominees in Contention
As the first day of the 2024  World Expression Forum (WEXFO) neared its end today (May 27) with a gala dinner in Lillehammer, the International Publishers Association (IPA) has announced from the stage the shortlist for its unique Prix Voltaire, honoring exceptional courage in upholding the freedom to publish.

This year’s shortlist features five people and organizations selected for demonstrating resilience and bravery in the face of censorship and oppression, embodying the spirit of the award.

IPA’s president, Karine Pansa, as part of the announcement, said, “These five publishers have demonstrated remarkable resilience and should serve as an inspiration to all of us. They remind us why what we do is so important.”

Kristenn Einarsson, chair of the IPA Freedom to Publish committee and WEXFO’s founding CEO, “This year’s shortlist shows how important publishers are to guaranteeing freedom of expression and the role they play in the freedom to read. We thank them all for their bravery.”

Related article: ‘Recalling Ukrainian Writer and Activist Victoria Amelina.’ Image: IPA/WEXFO

A tribute was included in the event tonight to author and human rights activist Victoria Amelina, who attended last year’s Prix Voltaire ceremony to receive the IPA Prix Voltaire Special Award on behalf of children’s author and poet, Volodymyr Vakulenko.

On July 1, Victoria Amelina succumbed to wounds suffered during the bombing of Kramatorsk on June 27.

As our readers know, the 2024 IPA Prix Voltaire ceremony is scheduled to take place at the 34th International Publishers Congress in Guadalajara, December 3 to 6.

The honor, directed by James Taylor, comes with a cash purse of 10,000 Swiss francs prize made possible by generous contributions from sponsors, all of which are publishing houses and organizations that share the values that the IPA Prix Voltaire embodies.

International Publishers Association president Karine Pansa announces the 2024 IPA Prix Voltaire shortlist, with WEXFO founding CEO and IPA Freedom to Publish publisher Kristenn Einarsson. Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

The IPA’s 2024 Prix Voltaire Shortlist

Osman Kavala

Osman Kavala, Turkey

Osman Kavala is a Turkish businessman who co-founded Ana Publishing and İletişim Publishing, supporting young Turkish authors.

He promotes cultural exchange, human rights, and democratic values. and he’s on the board of Aras Publishing, known for its work in Armenian literature. Detained in October 2017, Kavala was sentenced to life in prison in April 2022 on charges many consider politically motivated.

Dušan Gojkov

Dušan Gojkov, Balkan Literary Herald, Serbia

Dušan Gojkov is a Serbian radio director, playwright, poet, novelist, composer, and publisher.

He founded the Balkan Literary Herald in 1994 and has written and published numerous issues and books. A fierce defender of free expression and secretary-general of PEN Armãn, Gojkov has advocated for the safety of threatened authors and moving them to safety.

Despite opposition, he continues to publish and promote literary freedom.

Aslambek Ezhaev

Aslambek Ezhaev, Ummah Publishing, Russia

Aslambek Ezhaev founded Ummah Publishing in 2002 in Russia, releasing translated Islamic literature respected by both Muslim and secular religious scholars in Russia.

Following repeated bans of books by courts as “extremist,” Ezhaev was arrested in April 2021 on “charges of financing Islamic terrorists.”

Despite Freedom of Conscience public committee support for Mr. Ezhaev, he was sentenced to 17 years in prison in February 2023.

Andrej Januskevic

Andrej Januskevic, Andrej Januskevic Publishing, Belarus

The Januskevic Publishing House challenges oppression of the freedom to publish in Belarus, where publishers face harassment, fines, and investigations when publishing books critical of the government. Director Andrej Januskevic has faced arbitrary detention, book seizures and books labeled by the government as “extremist.”

In 2023 he was forced to flee to Poland, where he has promised to continue publishing and has opened a bookstore in Warsaw.

Samir Mansour

Samir Mansour, Samir Mansour Bookshop for Printing and Publishing, Palestine

The Samir Mansour Bookshop for Printing and Publishing has been a critical part of the local community in Gaza for over 20 years, publishing Palestinian authors and housing thousands of books in various languages.

Destroyed in 2021, rebuilt and re-opened in 2023, the bookshop has been damaged again in the Israel-Hamas war.

The bookshop continues to visit evacuation centers and provide books and gift packages to displaced children.

More from Publishing Perspectives on issues of the freedom to publish and freedom of expression is here, more on the Prix Voltaire is here, and on the International Publishers Association is here. More on the World Expression Forum, WEXFO, is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the global media partner of the International Publishers Association.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.