Skip to main content

4,000 exhibitors from 95 countries meet again in Frankfurt / Spanish royal couple and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier to attend opening of 74th Frankfurter Buchmesse / Bestselling author Mohsin Hamid champions the vital role of translators / 2,000+ events / appearances by President Volodymyr Zelensky and First Lady Olena Zelenska (virtual) / Guest of Honour: Spain/ Featured topic: translation

With 4,000 exhibitors from 95 countries on ten floors throughout the exhibition halls, along with numerous stages across the fairgrounds and more than 2,000 events and 4,000 accredited journalists, Frankfurter Buchmesse (19–23 October 2022) is back in full force. The 74th Frankfurter Buchmesse opens today, Tuesday, 18 October, at 5.00 pm, with the Spanish royal couple, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Elke Büdenbender in attendance. Other speakers at the opening ceremony will include Boris Rhein, minister president of the State of Hessen, Dr Nargess Eskandari-Grünberg, first deputy mayor of the City of Frankfurt, Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, chairwoman of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, and the literary keynote speakers from Spain, Irene Vallejo and Antonio Muñoz Molina.   

“I am much looking forward to seeing many authors, publishers and partners once again,” said Juergen Boos, president of Frankfurter Buchmesse. “Personal encounters are more important than ever, since interacting in person helps reduce polarisation. People speak differently with each other when they are face to face. In the coming days, topical, controversial and passionate discussions will take place in Frankfurt. And they will not go unheard. After all, in keeping with this year’s motto ‘Translate. Transfer. Transform.’ we firmly believe that the book industry can provide the necessary understanding – whether it be by translating literature from one language to another, by demonstrating global solidarity with book industry professionals in exile or by facilitating the international networking that takes place here.”     


High-ranking politicians at the book fair 

Numerous leading politicians will visit Frankfurter Buchmesse in the coming days or address the participating publishers via video feed: On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will put in a virtual appearance during a gathering of the Federation of European Publishers (FEP). And Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska will take part digitally in BRIGITTE Talk (Saturday, 5.30 pm). German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser will attend the fair in person, as will German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht, German Minister for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth Lisa Paus, Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth and numerous other high-ranking politicians from Germany and beyond.  


Appeal to protect the book industry 

During today’s opening press conference for the 74th Frankfurter Buchmesse, Juergen Boos, president of Frankfurter Buchmesse, Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, chairwoman of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, and British-Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid made an appeal to the book industry. Using the journalistic resources at its disposal, they said, the book industry has a duty to create a visible counterweight to divisive, anti-democratic and discriminatory tendencies and to unanimously condemn them. 

Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, chairwoman of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, called on politicians to protect the position of the book industry. “Frankfurter Buchmesse is the world’s largest marketplace for books and stories,” she said. “At the same time, it is an important event for promoting international understanding. In a world in which ever deeper fissures are appearing between political, cultural and ideological outlooks, the book fair creates space for peaceful, democratic exchange. Especially in these uncertain times, publishers and booksellers want to provide a comprehensive supply of literature, nonfiction and specialised information. During the pandemic, they were successful in this role – the book industry has showed itself to be remarkably resilient in the past two years. At the same time, however, the unstable global and market situation is presenting it with major new challenges. The industry urgently needs supportive measures from policy makers if it is to continue fulfilling its social mandate in its accustomed manner.”    


Focus on translation 

Literary translators rarely find themselves in the spotlight – even though the work they do is of critical importance. The act of translating – in all senses of the word – is present everywhere as soon as linguistic regions, cultures, experiences and habits come into contact with each other, something that led Frankfurter Buchmesse to choose “Translate. Transfer. Transform.” as the main theme for the 74th book fair.     

“At least half the books that have mattered most to me were written in languages I could not read myself,” said author Mohsin Hamid, speaking at the opening press conference. Without translators I would have been half the reader that I am. My own books are translated into many languages that I cannot speak. Without translators I would be a fraction of the writer that I am. But there is more. As Gabriel Garcia Marquez said of the translator Gregory Rabassa: he wrote my novels better than I did. I suspect many of us writers, were we fluent enough to read the work of our translators, might find ourselves saying the same. Translators are profoundly vital. In the world today, a world of rising xenophobia and nativism, a world preoccupied with the construction of walls, translators make windows and doors.”  


Extensive international participation, strong Guest of Honour presence 

About two-thirds of the fair’s exhibitors come from outside Germany. Participation by Asian exhibitors is pleasingly high; North America and Central and Southern Europe are particularly well represented among the countries present. Spain accounts for a significant share here: the over 320 exhibitors and agents from the 2022 Guest of Honour country represent all of Spain’s linguistic regions, and Spanish participants even make up the third-largest continent at the fully booked Literary Agents & Scouts Center (LitAg) after the UK and the US. 

In terms of its programme, Spain’s presence will be felt most fully at the Guest of Honour Pavilion (Forum Level 1), where visitors can go exploring under the motto “Creatividad Desbordante – Spilling Creativity”. Thanks to the interplay of architecture, AI-supported installations and live events, each visitor will embark on his or her own individual journey, encountering literary voices such as Kiko Amat, Elena Medel, Cristina Morales, Elizabeth Duval, Rosa Montero, Sara Mesa and Fernando Aramburu. The overarching concept is based on the “Theory of Cherries” originated by author Carmen Martín Gaite (1925–2000), who once noted that “stories are like cherries: if you reach into a bowl of cherries, you never end up with just one piece of fruit.” In terms of their interactions and impressions, that is what people are meant to experience when visiting the pavilion. Overall, the Spanish delegation is made up of some 200 authors and creatives from Spain, who will also be participating in the BOOKFEST literature festival, in THE ARTS+ and in the book fair’s trade programme. 

The 74th Frankfurter Buchmesse is supported with funds from the German government’s NEUSTART KULTUR programme. 

For more information on the topics discussed above (Guest of Honour Spain, Ukraine, BOOKFEST, trade programme, highlights for the general public, focus on translating), please see our #fbm22 press kit: