FAD Medal

Books are probably made to avoid speeches. And also, of course, because they last. Not all do, and the mystery of books —the greatest mystery surrounding them— is not knowing which ones will and which will not. All publishers want their books to endure, and some even go through some trouble to achieve this. Many others, perhaps the majority, do not try so hard, because they know that the books that do last do so for mysterious reasons. For example, The Specialist by Charles Sale, a story that meticulously narrates the building of a privy somewhere in the Wild West; or The Little Prince, by Saint-Exupéry, a strange interstellar story with talking animals, vegetables, and minerals that is offered to generation after generation of children and which no one will ever understand. By contrast, not a single sentence remains of what was written by the 4th century philosopher and scientist Hypatia, at least under her name, or what so many women have written throughout history. Yet, The Little Prince has been translated into Esperanto in order to make an indecipherable story indecipherable for the largest number of readers.

The same mysterious force, or perhaps a different or opposing one, that made someone translate The Little Prince into Esperanto is what has pushed us down the path of children’s books and illustrated editions that the French call ‘beautiful books’, two genres that have their own audience and success but, when combined, cause all types of effects. Are there readers for these books? No doubt there are. And if not, what we need to do is create them, and then gather them and stir them up. This is why we thank you for supporting our project by awarding us this medal. Thank you for helping to give visibility to our books. Thank you for including us among these small publishing houses with whom we share this award today, and whose work we admire and consider related to our proposals.

Vicente Ferrer

Text read during the presentation of the FAD medal to Media Vaca. Barcelona, 26 April 2007. Image: cover of the book The Specialist (Pomaire, 1982); cover drawing by William Kermode.