By Edward Nawotka
The opening ceremony of the 61st Frankfurt Book Fair featured bestselling Chinese author Mo Yan who quoted Goethe’s concept of international literature, describing it as one that extends beyond borders, comingles cultures and accepts difference. The result, said Mo Yan, was the “amalgamation of thoughts and values.”
Xi Jinping, vice president of the People’s Republic of China—a man widely anticipated to be the next leader of China—stated that, “Literature can contribute to the development of a harmonious world. The influence of culture can go beyond space and time and beyond national borders. But this depends on overcoming prejudices and misunderstandings—a mutual respect. Differences in ideologies must not hamper progress, but enrich one another.”
A single theme emerged from their speeches: a striving for mutual understanding, whether that was between China and the West, or indeed, traditional and digital forms of publishing.