“Words move” more than ever: Germany is Guest of Honour at the Warsaw Book Fair

Nobel laureate Herta Müller agrees to participate / 66 german publishers

Frankfurt / Warsaw, 19 April 2017 – From 18 to 21 May 2017, Germany will be Guest of Honour at the 8th Warsaw Book Fair. “Words move. Siła słów” is the slogan of the programme, developed jointly by the Frankfurter Buchmesse, Goethe-Institut and Auswärtiges Amt der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Foreign Office of Germany). Its aim is to present literature as a free space for open dialogue and for exchanging thoughts, feelings and information.

“This is a decisive year for Europe: Elections are coming up in many countries that will not only decide on presidents and governments, but also on cohesion within Europe. At a time when Europe is increasingly under pressure, we want to take advantage of our participation as Guest of Honour to discuss topics that move us: Europe as a place many long to move to, the alarming right-wing populist tendencies in many countries, the effects of the financial crisis – but also questions about shared values and cultural identities”, says Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurter Buchmesse.

“We’re looking forward to Germany’s participation as Guest of Honour in Warsaw”, says Christoph Bartmann, director of the Goethe-Institut Warsaw. “It supports our efforts to establish an intense German-Polish cultural dialogue, even in politically difficult times. The names of the invited authors and the titles of the events reveal that, the wide variety of topics notwithstanding, freedom of expression will be a key issue”.

The 220-square-metre German collective stand will provide a stage for a diverse range of German book culture: A record number of 66 exhibitors are utilising Germany’s participation as Guest of Honour to initiate discussions and business with Polish publishers. Employees of 23 of these publishers will represent them at the fair, including Aufbau, Rowohlt, Suhrkamp, Kookbooks, Gabal and Loewe. The Polish bookstore Co-Liber will handle book sales at the stand.

The evening before the Warsaw Book Fair opens, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany in Poland, Rolf Nikel, will host the event “Our image of our neighbour. Cultural rapprochement in German-Polish relations”. Participants will include the author Artur Becker and the sociologist Karolina Wigura (Wednesday, 17 May 2017).

With Nobel laureate Herta Müller, the German stand will host an author who has transcended many borders both in her life and art. She has taken her experiences in a communist regime and channelled them into her literature: Her prose unsettles and moves. Herta Müller is very popular among Polish readers – more of her books have been translated into Polish than to any other language. The Romanian-German author is often considered an advocate for the defence of human rights. “The words of every language have different eyes” is the title of the event in which Herta Müller will have a conversation with the Polish journalist Adam Krzeminski.

Under the headline “Quo vadis Europa?”, the Ukrainian author Yuri Andruchowytsch, the German political scientist Ulrike Guérot and the Polish journalist Magdalena Grochowska will grapple with three different European positions. Jacek Żakowski will moderate the discussion.

Wherever freedom of the press and speech are suppressed, democracy is at risk. What are the consequences of this for a society? How can authors and journalists in particular confront censorship; how can they continue to practice their professions? At the panel discussion “For Speech and Freedom. Opportunities and threats at times of political transition”, the authors and journalists Artur Becker, Ewa Wanat, Marek Cichocki and Alexander Skipis (German Publishers & Booksellers Association) will talk about one of the most pressing issues of our time.

Visitors will also find a rich programme dedicated to specialist, literary and social-political issues, as well as to children’s and young adult literature and crime novels. Eleven authors will have conversations with Polish writers and journalists in Warsaw. In addition to the above-mentioned authors, these include Wolfgang Bauer, Ulrike Draesner, Jakob Hein, André Kubiczek, Charlotte Link, Alice Pantermüller and illustrator Daniela Kohl. The complete programme of events at the German collective stand is available here: www.book-fair.com/international.

The German and Polish book markets share longstanding, close ties. Polish publishing houses are important licensing partners for German publishers: In 2015, 367 licenses were assigned, a slight increase over 2014 (324 licenses sold). Since 2011, Poland has been among the ten most important languages for the sale of foreign rights to German titles. At the same time, in Germany, there is steady interest in Polish literature. Polish ranks among the 20 top languages from which German publishers translate: In 2015, a total of 48 Polish works were translated to German, including 16 fiction titles.

In 2000, Poland participated as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse; in 2006, in turn, Germany was the Guest of Honour at the Warsaw Book Fair. This exchange is also reflected in the Polish population’s interest in German culture: According to the German Foreign Office, over two million Polish pupils are learning German.

Literature enthusiasts can browse some 800 German books at the collective stand – on display, among others, are the collections “On Words and Liberty – Books about Freedom of Expression”, “Rights List Children’s Books On Tour”, “The Best German Book Design 2016”, “On the End of Loneliness - New Literary Releases from Germany”, “My Father’s Counry - Postwar Biographies” as well as, for the first time, “This Tree’s Leaf. German-language Authors’ Experiences of Nature”.


Official website of the Warsaw Book Fair

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