International Industry Notes: Frankfurt’s Guest of Honor Kickoff, PEN America’s ‘M Word’

In News by Porter Anderson

In September, kickoffs will occur for a new PEN America showcase of writers on Muslim identity, and for Frankfurt Book Fair’s 2016 Guest of Honor Flanders and The Netherlands.

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By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘Stories From Countries Around the World’

Flanders Neth logoWith it’s theme of “This Is What We Share” (Dit is wat we delen), Frankfurt Book Fair’s Guest of Honor program in October is presented by Flanders and The Netherlands, as a major cultural event.

This ambitious program, which is to take 70 Dutch-speaking authors into Buchmesse for the event, has a kickoff celebration scheduled in New York City for Thursday, September 22 at Flanders House.

“The Guest of Honor program helps to bring stories from countries around the world to our doorsteps through translation,” says Frankfurt Vice-President Thomas Minkus in charge of emerging media and English-language markets in announcing the event.

“Translation rights have long been a focus of the Frankfurt Book Fair, through our long-standing Guest of Honor program and, more recently, with our acquisition of IPR License, an online rights platform for licensing deals.”

Thomas Minkus

Thomas Minkus

Partners with Frankfurt Book Fair in the kickoff event on September 22 include the Dutch Foundation for Literature, the General Representation of the Government of Flanders to the USA, the Flemish Literature Fund, the German Book Office New York, and Dutch Culture USA/Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The event will feature a sample of what publishers, media, and attendees can expect at this fall’s Book Fair. There will be Dutch and Flemish refreshments, information on this year’s guest of honor presentation and two book giveaways:

  • Stefan Hermans’ War and Turpentine (Knopf), and
  • Guus Kuijer’s The Bible for Unbelievers (Seven Stories Press).

The evening, which starts at 6:30 p.m. ET, is invitational but publishing industry professionals interested in being added to the guest list may contact Elizabeth Berman at

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PEN America’s Series on Muslim Identity

The M Word is the title of a new two-year series of public events being launched this autumn by PEN America, with underwriting from the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art Building Bridges Program.

Of interest to fans of The Daily Show, the first event, September 21, at the Public Theater’s Joe’s Pub in Manhattan will feature Hasan Minhaj in “The M Word: Muslim Comedians on the Right To Joke.” With Minhaj, the evening is scheduled to feature:

  • Negin Farsad, documentary director of The Muslims Are Coming and author of How To Make White People Laugh;
  • Mo Amer of the Muslim comedy troupe Allah Made Me Funny;
  • 2 Dope Queens‘ Phoebe Robinson, whose memoir You Can’t Touch My Hair is slated for this October; and
  • Playwright, New York Times contributor, and television host Wajahat Ali as moderator.

A prepared statement issued to the press by PEN America carries this rationale for the series of events:

PEN America logo lined“Muslim Americans have played a vital role in building America¹s varied cultural landscape, but their voices have often been marginalized through ignorance, isolation, and violence.

“Many Muslim-American writers and artists today are increasingly pigeon-holed by editors, journalists, producers, and audiences into explaining or defending their faith and its followers, rather than recognized for their own creativity and unique contributions to American culture.

“Over the next two years, PEN America will bring together some of the most bracing and original voices from both Muslim and non-Muslim communities in conversation on the challenges of self-identification and self-expression in today¹s social and political climate. Events in New York, Boston, and Washington will each center on a different genre of writing, including fiction, comedy, script-writing, punditry, and more.”

An advisory board for the program features Ali along with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Ayad Akhtar; “Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan” creator Sana Amanat; author Zia Haider Rahman; and religious scholar and media commentator Reza Aslan.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.