The initial club meeting to determine logistics, including frequency of meetings and types of books to read, will take place on March 6 at the Embassy of Spain.
Marina Garcia Sanchez, the Embassy’s Cultural Attaché, said the book club was an initiative of the deputy head of mission at the embassy Victoria Tur and Lisa Maria Burgess Noudehou, a writer and literature scholar.
“For our first meeting, we invite suggestions for the format that would most suit members’ taste,” said Sanchez.
“One of the options is an open discussion, where each month we will meet to discuss the books each one of us has read and particularly enjoyed. Members will bring their books and these will be circulated among the other members. Another option would be a focused discussion, where we will meet each month to discuss a book agreed on in advance.”
She said the book club, which adds to the other various activities offered by the Cultural centre, seeks to create a space for informal gathering of people who like reading.
“It is meant to be very open in terms of discussions and literature genres. We felt that with a very low budget activity like this one we could actually fill a gap missing in Harare and offer this space for literary discussion without any special formality,” she said, adding the cultural centre would in future export this idea to other places like high-density suburbs where access to such facilities is very limited.
Monthly writers’ get-togethers in Harare had become uncommon because similar initiatives by writers’ organisations or groups have often been short-lived due to lack of resources. The much awaited re-opening of the popular Book Café in Harare, which is likely to coincide with the launch of the book club, will boost the writers’ morale. The Book Café was closed last year, inciting outcry from artists.
The cultural centre aims to create a dynamic space to promote reflection, dialogue, debate and to transfer knowledge, exchange experiences and to propose initiatives related to cultural cooperation.
The Embassy of Spain’s commitment to the pro-motion of local arts and culture has seen it taking part at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair since 2010. In June 2011, the embassy, in collaboration with the Zimbabwe Young Women’s Network for Peace Building (ZYWNP) launched a Young Women’s Open Forum at the cultural centre.
The forum is a space for young women to interact and discuss their world as well as to create a process of empowering young women to help them achieve their full potential.