Background information on the Slovenian book market
Slovenia to be Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse 2022
Frankfurt /Ljubljana, 20 February 2018 – The Frankfurter Buchmesse’s Guest of Honour 2022 has been chosen: Today, the contract for Slovenia’s appearance as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse (19-23 October 2022) was signed by the Director of the Slovenian Book Agency, Renata Zamida, and Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurter Buchmesse, in the presence of the Slovenian Minister of Culture, Anton Peršak, and numerous authors and publishers.
At least two million people speak the Slovenian language, and it is a recognised official language in Slovenia, the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, the Austrian state of Carinthia and the European Union. The most well-known contemporary Slovenian authors include the philosopher Slavoj Žižek, the novelist and translator Ales Steger as well as the children’s book author and illustrator Lila Prap.
Literature as a state-building force
Before the country’s declaration of independence in 1991, Slovenian had never been the official language in the area now known as Slovenia – despite the fact that the language dates back to the 10th century. Political occupations have shaped Slovenia’s culture and arts sector. Yet the country’s more recent history also shows how culture, in turn, can become a state-building force and can redefine the political order. In 1988, intellectuals and authors adopted the “writers’ constitution”, which put into words the need for an independent state; Anton Peršak, the current Minister of Culture, also participated in its drafting. When Slovenia was established in 1991, the theses set down in this document served as the basis for the Slovenian constitution. Amongst other things, this explains why “Slovenians do not write their history based on their war heroes but based on their poets”, as the Carinthian writer Peter Handke incisively summed it up in an interview.
As part of Slovenia’s appearance as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse 2022, the German public will be introduced to famous authors such as Boris Pahor, Drago Jančar and Slavoj Žižek, poets like Srečko Kosovel, Dane Zajc and Tomaž Šalamun as well as up-and-coming literary talent. In addition, through its work, the organising committee aims to bring together Slovenian and German authors and to promote rights and licensing sales.
Various different events also attest to the great importance of the written, read and spoken word in the Slovenian cultural scene. The Slovenian Book Fair in Ljubljana and the Vilenica International Literary Festival for Central European literature, for example, are both traditions stretching back 30 years. In 2017, the Fabula International Literature Festival brought Mathias Énard and Sofi Oksanen, amongst others, to Ljubljana. Moreover, Slovenia hosts over two dozen important major events dedicated to books and awards some 20 different literary prizes.
In addition, Ljubljana holds not just one but two UNESCO titles: In 2010, the Slovenian capital was designated “World Book Capital” and, in 2016, it received the permanent UNESCO title “City of Literature”.
The Slovenian book market
Every year in Slovenia, some 4,000 books are published, including 300 collections of poetry, 500 novels and almost 900 children’s books. In Europe, Slovenia is at the forefront in terms of library lending figures. According to the International Publishers Association (IPA), the nation is second in the world in the number of books published per one million inhabitants. The country celebrated its debut at the Frankfurter Buchmesse in 1997 – just six years after gaining independence from Yugoslavia.
The Slovenian Book Agency was founded in 2009, based on similar foreign institutions (such as FILI in Finland and Letterenfonds in the Netherlands, for example). Its staff utilises the agency’s annual budget of 4.5 million euros to effectively promote literature; of this total, 500,000 euros go towards expanding the international reach of Slovenian authors through programmes that fund translations and publications – measures that are already being intensified with an eye to the Frankfurter Buchmesse 2022. The activities are also supported by the national publishers and booksellers associations, the Slovenian Writers’ Association and numerous organisations and governmental bodies active in the book sector, in particular the Slovenian Ministry of Culture.
About the Frankfurter Buchmesse
The Frankfurter Buchmesse is the international publishing industry’s biggest trade fair – with over 7,300 exhibitors from 102 countries, around 286,000 visitors, over 4,000 events and some 10,000 accredited journalists (including 2,400 bloggers) in attendance. It also brings together key players from other media, including the film and games industries. Since 1976, the Book Fair has featured an annual Guest of Honour country, which showcases its book market, literature and culture to attendees in a variety of ways. The Frankfurter Buchmesse organises the participation of German publishers at around 20 international book fairs and hosts trade events throughout the year in major international markets. With its Business Club, the Frankfurter Buchmesse offers essential services and an ideal setting for the activities of entrepreneurs, publishers, founders, pioneers, experts and visionaries. The Frankfurter Buchmesse is a subsidiary of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers & Booksellers Association). www.book-fair.com
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