FBM director Juergen Boos condemns the terrorist attack on Israel | Guest of Honour: poetry in focus | Democracy Fair: political discussions with various authors and activists | New “Literature Stage” from ARD, ZDF and 3sat | Diverse anniversary events in the city | Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar to speak at opening ceremony
In its anniversary year, the 75th Frankfurter Buchmesse (18–22 October 2023) will offer a high-profile programme of cultural and political events – as a forum for literature and social debate. The publishing industry’s largest gathering will be opened today, Tuesday, 17 October, by the President of the Republic of Slovenia Nataša Pirc Musar. Author and philosopher Slavoj Žižek and poet and journalist Miljana Cunta will give philosophical and literary keynote addresses at the opening ceremony. The Mayor of the City of Frankfurt, Mike Josef, the State of Hesse’s Minister of State for Science and the Arts, Angela Dorn, and the Chairwoman of the German Publishers & Booksellers Association, Karin Schmidt-Friderichs, will also speak.
“The world is coming undone,” said Juergen Boos, Director of Frankfurter Buchmesse, at today’s press conference, commenting on a globe unsettled by simultaneous crises. “We have the crisis of climate change and the crisis among Western democracies. We have been experiencing Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine for over a year and a half. And on 7 October, Hamas’s terrorist warfare against Israel reached a whole new, terrifying level. We are all horrified. Frankfurter Buchmesse has always been about humanity; the focus is on people interacting with each other. This humanity was shattered on 7 October by the attack on Israel carried out by Hamas’s terrorists. Our sympathy goes out to the people whose loved ones have been the targets of this violence and everyone in Israel and Palestine suffering because of this war. We condemn the terror against Israel and condemn those who are financing it and thus making it possible.”
Over the five days of the fair, numerous events will explore today’s most pressing socio-political issues. As the guest speaker at the opening press conference, British science journalist and author Gaia Vince (Nomad Century) shed light on the connection between climate change and the global migrant flows that have already begun. On the main cultural policy stage in the iconic Frankfurt Pavilion, participants in upcoming discussions will include Claudia Roth, (Germany’s Federal Commissioner for Culture and the Media), Deniz Yücel (PEN Berlin), Irina Sherbakova (author and cofounder of the human rights organisation Memorial,), Dmitry Glukhovsky (Russian bestselling author in exile) and Meron Mendel (Bildungsstätte Anne Frank).
On the Frankfurt International Stage, experts from the United Nations will discuss the topic of climate change and encourage people to move from analysis to action, in keeping with the event’s title: “The Era of Global Boiling – What Can We Do?” Climate activist and cofounder of the Last Generation movement, Lea Bonasera, will also be present in Frankfurt. Along with other activists, she will be participating in the programme “SHEROES – Streiterinnen für die Zukunft” (SHEROES – Fighters for the Future) on the Literature Stage hosted by broadcasters ARD, ZDF and 3sat. Other authors invited to appear this year include former Femen activist Zana Ramadani and AI expert Mina Saidze.
Fans of good stories and literary live encounters can look forward to multiple highlights at the 2023 fair. In the Frankfurt Audio area, which showcases audiobooks and podcasts, many well-known voices will be heard, such as Rufus Beck (Harry Potter) and Marc-Uwe Kling (Kangaroo Chronicles). For the first time, the very popular German political podcast Lage der Nation (State of the Nation) will make an appearance at the book fair, in Harmony Hall at the Congress Center (CMF). During “Lage Live”, Philip Banse and Ulf Buermeyer will record a new episode of their successful podcast before an audience of some 2,000 people. A Literary Gala, curated by ARD, ZDF and 3sat, will also be held in the CMF and will feature Christopher Clark, Lizzie Doron, Cornelia Funke, Amir Gudarzi and Thomas Hettche. The recipient of this year’s Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, Salman Rushdie, has also confirmed he will participate in the gala. Every day from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, the latest literary developments will be presented on the Literature Stage hosted by ARD, ZDF and 3sat. Moderators Bärbel Schäfer, Denis Scheck, Knut Cordsen, Mona Ameziane, Thea Dorn, Katty Salié, Jo Schück, Vivian Perkovic, Gert Scobel and others will take the opportunity to converse with illustrious authors.
From Friday to Sunday on various stages across the fairgrounds, the Frankfurt Kids Festival will bring together renowned names from the world of children’s and young adult literature. Among the stars who have announced they will participate are Margit Auer and Cornelia Funke, along with Benjamin Lacombe and Ursula Poznanski. Otfried Preußler’s birthday (he would have turned 100 on 20 October 2023) will also be duly celebrated. With so many literary celebrities present, book signings are a must: the Meet the Author area in Hall 4.1 is a new event location that makes it possible for authors and fans to interact in an informal setting.
The team organising Slovenia’s appearance as Guest of Honour has promised a great show for this year’s fair. Some 75 authors and creatives will make up the delegation from the country that has only existed as an independent state for 32 years. In addition, there will be more than 30 publishers and institutions, an illustrators’ exhibition and a wide-ranging programme of more than 70 events at the Guest of Honour Pavilion. Among the highlights there will be a talk between Juergen Boos, Director of Frankfurter Buchmesse, and Aleksander Čeferin, President of the UEFA football organisation. In terms of literature, poetry will be the focus of Slovenia’s appearance at the fair, which will take place under the motto “Honeycomb of Words”. The Guest of Honour programme will also have a second focus: philosophy. One much anticipated event is the specialist programme curated by publishing scholar Miha Kovač, which will take an interdisciplinary look at the topic “Higher-Level Reading”. A cultural high point in the Guest of Honour programme will be the concert by Slovenia’s most famous band, Laibach, which will perform “Alamut – Historical Symphony” in the Jahrhunderthalle. The intercultural work is based on the 1938 novel by Vladimir Bartol.
To mark its 75th anniversary, Frankfurter Buchmesse has organised special events that both put the spotlight on itself and include Frankfurt’s residents in the celebration of “their” book fair. Using the tagline “And the story goes on”, the campaign features reminiscences of the fair’s historic milestones and a preview of coming chapters. Different motifs have been appearing in a variety of forms throughout the city in recent weeks. Advertising on buses and at bus stops across Frankfurt address expected visitors and passers-by, while messages at the airport and the main train station greet arriving passengers. Since the end of September, 75 of the city’s public bookcases have been adorned with this year’s FBM logo.