Georgia celebrates the opening of its 2018 literature programme in Leipzig

Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse presents Georgian books and authors

Frankfurt / Leipzig, 15 March 2018 – “Georgia – Made by Characters” is the motto for this year’s Guest of Honour at the Frankfurter Buchmesse (10-14 October 2018). Georgia celebrates the launch of its 2018 literature programme in Leipzig and presents some of its characters – with 22 Georgian authors and 22 books translated into German, plus around 40 events at the exhibition grounds and in the city of Leipzig. The programme is organised by the Georgian National Book Center and is supported by the Georgian Ministry of Culture and Sport, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation as well as German and Georgian publishers.
Fans of literature can look forward to around 150 events across Germany, Austria and Switzerland over the coming months – including presentations and readings of fiction and non-fiction, poetry and prose, which offer an insight into the many different facets of Georgian literature. At today’s press conference, the organisers presented the latest new releases as well as the extensive March programme due to take place in cities including Cologne, Leipzig, Berlin, Frankfurt, Halle, Vienna and Salzburg.

“We are delighted that Georgia, our Guest of Honour, is celebrating the start of its literary and cultural year with the title ‘Georgia made by Characters’ here in Leipzig,” said Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurter Buchmesse. “Georgia represents a threshold between Europe and Asia. It lies on the old trade routes between north and south, and has therefore been the centre of centuries of continuous exchange. At the same time, a rich language and unique culture have also been preserved in the country, and these have inspired and shaped the identity of generations of writers. Georgia’s Guest of Honour presentation is accompanied by a large number of new publications, and here in Leipzig there will be a host of young literary talents to discover – talents who see themselves as being rooted in their country’s great tradition. I’m really looking forward to seeing which ‘characters’ will capture the imaginations of our visitors from around the world.”

“We want to use literature and encounters with our authors to present our country – in which numerous cultures have been living together for centuries – to people in the German-speaking world,” explained Mikheil Giorgadze, Georgia’s Minister for Culture and Sport and Project Director of the Guest of Honour appearance. “With the Georgian ‘Characters’, we are not just presenting the letters of our unique alphabet, which has been listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO and which symbolises the individuality and identity of our nation, but also the writers, who have recorded their stories in this script and who reflect the country and its literary scene. We are really pleased that so many interesting personalities will be coming to Germany in the spring as ambassadors for Georgian culture and literature”, continued Giorgadze.

Georgian authors introduce themselves

After the Leipzig Book Fair, Georgian authors will start their tour to German-speaking countries to present their new books. The 22 authors who are visiting Leipzig include Aka Morchiladze – one of the most famous contemporary authors in Georgian literature. Two titles written by him, from up to 30, have so far been published in German: Santa Esperanza and Reise nach Karabach (Journey to Karabakh). Following his appearances at the Leipzig Book Fair (15–18 March), he will embark on a reading tour of Berlin, Halle and Frankfurt. The same is true of Lasha Bugadze, who is always in the spotlight thanks to his sharp social and political satire. Following his appearance in Leipzig, he will be presenting his book LUCRECIA515, which was published last autumn, in Cologne on 24 March. As for Ekaterine Togonidze, her writing focuses on people with disabilities, as well as their discrimination by the wider society, and provokes discussions on the topic. She will be presenting her latest book, Einsame Schwestern (The Lonely Sisters), in Leipzig, as well as in Berlin, Vienna and Salzburg. Lewan Berdsenishvili, former director of the Georgian National Library and Professor of Ancient Literature at the University of Tbilisi, will come to Leipzig too. He describes his time as a political prisoner in his book Heiliges Dunkel – Die letzten Tage des Gulag (The Holy Darkness – the Last Days of the Gulag). He was incarcerated in a prison camp from 1984 to 1987 as a result of his “anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda”. And Dato Barbakadze will visit the Leipzig Book Fair, presenting his new book Das Gebet (The Prayer) in Berlin afterwards. Nino Kharatishvili, a German-based author and playwright, will be in Leipzig as an ambassador for Georgian culture. “Georgian authors, filmmakers, musicians etc have managed to bring Georgia back onto the European cultural map and to draw attention to it”, she said. “The Guest of Honour appearance 2018 is the biggest proof of this. It is all the more important to use this opportunity properly – to be open and honest and, on the contrary, to hide nothing – to tell all the ambivalent, fragile stories that bring us closer to the European audience. Because connections are seldom sought in straightforwardness and perfection, but rather in human ambivalence, which of course every political, social, historical narrative contains.”

Other authors making an appearance in Leipzig include: Rati Amaglobeli, Diana Anphimiadi, Luka Bakanidze, Zaza Burchuladze, Kote Dschandieri, Rewas Gatschetschiladse, Nato Ingorokva, Zurab Karumidze, Besik Kharanauli, Zurab Rtveliashvili, Nino Sadghobelashvili, Bondo Matsaberidze, Nika Jorjaneli and Irma Shiolashvili. As a collaboration of two Guest of Honour countries at Frankfurter Buchmesse, Aleko Shugladze and Beso Khvedelidze will pitch their books together with two Norwegian authors in front of German publishers.

In addition to the Leipzig Book Fair, Georgian writers will be attending numerous readings and literary festivals between now and the autumn. They include the international literature festival in Berlin, “Poetry on the Road” in Bremen, the Literaturpflaster in Bad Berleburg, the lit.RUHR international literary festival and the Literaturtage Festival in Zofingen.

New books – as diverse as the country itself

The latest releases reflect the rich diversity of the country between the traditional cultural nation, the Soviet occupation and independence. The scope spans from the great story of love (Zurab Karumidze – Dagny oder Ein Fest der Liebe / Dagny or A Love Feast) to the high-spirited caricature of the final stages of the Soviet Union (Rezo Chcheishvili – Die Himmelblauen Berge / The Sky-Blue Mountains); from a collection of fairytales (Der König, der nicht lachen konnte / The King who Couldn’t Laugh) to a poetry anthology (Kartoffelernte / Potato Harvest) and to a historical encyclopaedia (Rewas Gatschetschiladse / Georgien im weltpolitischen Kontext /Georgia within the Geo-Political Context). With Avelum and Der Korb / The Basket two books of Otar Chiladze, a great Georgian classic, will be translated. And with a new prose version of Der Recke im Tigerfell / The Man in the Panther’s Skin of Shota Rustaveli, one of the most important literary monuments of the 12th century, will be retold.

“What is Georgian literature? The literature of a small nation that has accumulated a lot of things to say to the world. A literature with a strong tradition, very varied, open to innovations and at the same time self-sufficient. It is a literature based on the experiences and trials of many centuries, and which is developing step by step alongside modern world literature. In other words, this literature gives us a clear picture of the character of the nation that is producing it. We are thrilled to be able to work together with 60 German-speaking publishers to generate interest in Georgian literature, our stories and, of course, our authors,” explains Medea Metreveli, director of the Georgian National Book Center (GNBC). “65 books have been already published in the German language from 2011 to 2017. In 2018 around 60 new German translations will be published as well – it is a great opportunity to present our literary heritage to the German-speaking world.”

Art and Culture – Made by Characters

Thanks to the extensive programme of events, featuring exhibitions, music, plays and film screenings, people in Germany can experience a whole host of cultural offerings from Georgia. The programme combines the best of prehistoric, ancient and contemporary art, photography, architecture, design, typography and illustration – examples include an exhibition on the remains of the 1.8 million-year-old hominid of Dmanisi, as well as a show featuring archaeological findings and antique works of art concerning the myth of the Argonauts.

At the Leipzig Book Fair you will find the Georgian National Book Center in hall 4, stand D309.

Note to editors
We would be delighted if you could publish this information in your media. This press release, together with a complete press folder containing a whole host of other information about Georgian literature, authors, the book market and the programme of events can be found in the press section at http://www.georgia-characters.com
Press images are available to download here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/151985590@N07
Georgia – Guest of Honour Frankfurter Buchmesse 2018, Press office
Mirjam Flender, Kirsten Lehnert c/o projekt2508 GmbH
press@georgia-characters.com – Telefon +49 (0) 228 18 49 67-24

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 and 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 publishers, entrepreneurs, pioneers, experts and visionaries. THE ARTS+ was launched in 2016 as a fair, business festival and international meeting place for the culture and creative industries. It aims to exploit the potential of digitalisation for creative content and to develop new business areas. The Frankfurter Buchmesse is a subsidiary of the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels (German Publishers & Booksellers Association). https://www.buchmesse.de

Contact for the media, Frankfurter Buchmesse:
Press & Corporate Communications Frankfurter Buchmesse
Katja Böhne, Vice President Marketing & Communications, tel.: +49 (0) 69 2102-138, press@book-fair.com
Kathrin Grün, Head of PR and Communications, tel.: +49 (0) 69 2102-170, gruen@book-fair.com
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Georgia Made by Characters