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Frankfurter Buchmesse ends with ceremonial handover of GuestScroll

On the last day of Frankfurter Buchmesse, the current Guest of Honour traditionally says “good bye” by presenting the coming year’s Guest of Honour with the GuestScroll. During a festive ceremony held in the Festhalle on the fairgrounds today (24 October), Caroline Fortin, representing Canada as the 2020/2021 Guest of Honour, handed over the GuestScroll to Maria José Gálvez, director general of Books and Reading Promotion in Spain’s Ministry of Culture and Sport.

In 2019, Canada included a poem by Georgette Leblanc in the GuestScroll, which is inscribed each year with a short literary contribution from the coming Guest of Honour. Spain has now added its own contribution to the GuestScroll, which was not inscribed last year due to the pandemic. The Spanish entry comprises texts from its three most important authors: Antonio Gamoneda, Ana María Matute and Maria Zambranom – all of whom have received the Cervantes Prize, the most prestigious award given to writers from Spain or Latin America. The texts are excerpts from the prize-winners’ acceptance speeches.

El libro lleva consigo la voluntad de crear placer, lleva consigo efectos en los que algo hay que se asemeja a una salvación, a una interrupción del dolor. Toda poesía, incluida la que se deriva del sufrimiento, de la crueldad o de la injusticia, está orientada a la creación de una forma de placer.

Books contain the will to create pleasure, they achieve an effect that is similar to salvation, to an interruption of pain. All poetry, even if it derives from suffering, cruelty or injustice, aims to create a sort of pleasure.

El tiempo en el que yo inventaba era un tiempo muy niño y muy frágil, en el que yo me sentía distinta: era tartamuda, más por miedo que por un defecto físico. Y traigo esto a cuento para explicar mi extrañeza, mi entrega total, absoluta, a esto que luego supe se llamaba Literatura. Y que ha sido, y es, el faro salvador de muchas de mis tormentas. A. M. Matute

The time during which I invented was a childlike and fragile time, one in which I felt different: I stuttered, more from fear than from a physical defect. I bring this up to explain my strangeness, my complete and absolute devotion to what I later learned is called literature. To what was and is the beacon of salvation during many of my storms.

Todo El Quijote es una revelación humana, mas no demasiado todavía, que también en esto se encuentran, novela y protagonista en el lugar y momento del alba. No podía ser de otra manera en ese personaje que padece el sueño de la libertad, ese sueño que, en cierta hora, tan incierta, se desata en el hombre. Maria Zambrano

All of Don Quixote is a human revelation, but not too much yet, since here, too, they meet, novel and protagonist, at the very location and moment of dawn. It could not be otherwise with this character, who suffers from the dream of freedom, the dream that at a certain time, so uncertain, is unleashed in man.

Before the handover of the GuestScroll, Canadian author Dany Laferrière and Spanish writer and poet Manuel Vilas exchanged views during a discussion of literary topics. To conclude the event, the quintet Spanish Brass set the scene musically for the new Guest of Honour. The event was moderated by journalist Shila Behjat.

Juergen Boos, director of Frankfurter Buchmesse, said: “Canada’s appearance as Guest of Honour was special in many respects. Due to the pandemic, it was the first time a country was Guest of Honour for two years. 2020 featured the first all-digital presence by a Guest of Honour. And now, this year, we had the first hybrid appearance which took place both virtually and in person. During this time, we came to know a country with an exciting, unique diversity. In keeping with Canada’s motto ‘Singular Plurality – Singulier Pluriel’, we’ve heard a multitude of voices in recent days that have revealed the country’s cultural richness, its diversity and contradictions. We’ve seen a remarkable pavilion that skilfully showcases virtual and in-person offerings while highlighting Canada’s landscapes using an artful installation. From the far north, we now look to southern Europe, to Spain: a country whose ‘Spilling Creativity – Creatividad desbordante’ is also expressed through a multitude of languages. We would once again like to thank the Spanish Guest of Honour Committee for agreeing to postpone its appearance at Frankfurter Buchmesse by one year. And we look forward to becoming acquainted with a country whose multilingualism is undoubtedly still unknown to many German readers.”  

Caroline Fortin, chairwoman of Canada FBM2021, looking back on the country’s time as Guest of Honour, gave a positive assessment, saying, “At the closing ceremony of Frankfurter Buchmesse in October 2019, I predicted that Canada would surprise the international publishing industry. Two years later, I can safely say: mission accomplished. And I don’t mean the global pandemic that struck, forcing us to postpone our Guest of Honour plans for a year! In 2021, Canada FBM2021 finally had the opportunity to present the country’s Guest of Honour pavilion and to develop a virtual counterpart to it – the first of its kind in the history of the book fair. That made it possible to showcase Canada’s official literary delegation of authors and illustrators at virtual and interactive venues and at live performances and discussions on stage. This literary experience, which was intimate despite being accessible to a large audience, put a spotlight on the richness of Canada’s literature – and will undoubtedly have long-term benefits for the Canadian publishing industry.” 

Maria José Gálvez, director general of Books and Reading Promotion at the Spanish Ministry for Culture and Sport, gladly accepted the GuestScroll, saying, “Three decades after our first appearance as Guest of Honour, expectations are high for us as well. We want to present ourselves in an even bigger and more diverse way. We want to open a window to the world in Frankfurt, while showcasing the creativity and diversity of Spanish culture and literature, and deepening the two countries’ cultural ties.”


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Kathrin Grün, Head of Communications, Phone: +49 (0) 69 2102-170(opens in a new window), in a new window)
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