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Political panels with UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, climate activist Lea Bonasera, Irina Scherbakova (Memorial) and many more

 At a time when incomprehension is becoming increasingly prevalent in public discourse, Frankfurter Buchmesse (18–22 October 2023) offers a platform for democratic exchange. As a result, its cultural policy programme is focussing on the diversity of literature and its creators, and on providing a range of perspectives. 

“The book fair is a democracy fair. Together with the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, we have been advocating for freedom of speech since 1949. This year, the presence of Salman Rushdie, who will receive the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in Frankfurt on the last day of the fair, will lend the topic even greater weight and international visibility. Freedom of the press and freedom of expression are also being given considerable coverage in the programmes we curate ourselves,” says Torsten Casimir, spokesperson for Frankfurter Buchmesse.

Frankfurt Pavilion as a cultural policy stage 

A large part of the cultural policy programme will take place in the iconic Frankfurt Pavilion located outdoors on the fair’s Agora. Panel members will include Claudia Roth, (Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media), Irina Scherbakova (author, co-founder of the human rights organisation Memorial), Dmitry Glukhovsky (bestselling Russian author in exile) and Meron Mendel (Bildungsstätte Anne Frank). Organised with the financial support of the Federal Foreign Office, the Frankfurt Forum will take place in the pavilion and focus on the topic of democracy and human rights. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Maria Ressa from the Philippines will join in the discussion, as will journalist and author in exile Can Dündar, and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk. An event will also be held with Adania Shibli, winner of the LiBeraturpreis. The Palestinian author will receive the prize, which is awarded each year to a female writer from the Global South, prior to the event. Liraz Charhi, the Israeli singer of Iranian heritage known as “the voice of the Iranian Protests”, will make a musical statement through her performance.  

 Human rights reading, Ukraine and fighters for the future

To mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international authors will read selected texts in their native languages. They will come from the book fair’s Guest of Honour countries, such as Slovenia, Italy and the Philippines. In addition, the Israel Institute for Hebrew Literature has invited singer Rita Yahan-Forouz, who uses Farsi to express her solidarity with the Iranian resistance, to appear on the international stage. Under the motto “Fragility of the Earth”, the Goethe-Institut Ukraine and the Ukrainian Book Institute will present Ukraine’s cultural sector at a 200-square-metre stand. As testimony to the crimes committed by the Third Reich, the exhibition “Scorched Places – Book Burnings of 1933” will be shown on the Agora. Photographs of today’s “scorched places” will be the focus of the exhibition, inviting viewers to engage with history. During “SHEROES – Streiterinnen für die Zukunft” (SHEROES – Fighters for the Future), broadcasters ARD, ZDF and 3sat will use their stage to present strong female voices. Participants will include climate activist and Last Generation founder Lea Bonasera, former FEMEN activist Zana Ramadani, and AI expert and founder Mina Saidze. On the panel "Black Femininity - (New) Daughters of Africa", writer Bridget Minamore, translator Eleonore Wiedenroth-Coulibaly and researcher Dr Denise Bergold-Caldwell will talk about writing against the background of experiences of discrimination.