By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘Words Move’Germany is Guest of Honor, May 18 to 21, at Poland’s eighth Warsaw Book Fair, with a program theme Siła słów, referencing the power of writing: “Words Move.”
The project is being developed and produced jointly by Frankfurt Book Fair, the Goethe-Institut, and Auswärtiges Amt der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, the German Foreign Office.
The over-arching intent of the programming is, according to a prepared statement, “to present literature as a free space for open dialogue and for exchanging thoughts, feelings and information.”
Juergen Boos, Frankfurter Buchmesse’s director, is quoted in media materials released Wednesday (April 19), saying, “This is a decisive year for Europe: Elections are coming up in many countries that will not only decide on presidents and governments, but also on cohesion within Europe.
“At a time when Europe is increasingly under pressure, we want to take advantage of our participation as Guest of Honor to discuss topics that move us: Europe as a place many long to move to, the alarming right-wing populist tendencies in many countries, the effects of the financial crisis–but also questions about shared values and cultural identities.”
At the heart of the program is the 220-square-meter German collective stand and the participation of a record 66 exhibitors who will use the occasion to network with Polish publishing players. Among houses scheduled to send staffers are Aufbau, Rowohlt, Suhrkamp, Kookbooks, Gabal, and Loewe.
Polish Bookstore Co-Liber will handle book sales at the stand.
Goethe-Institut Warsaw director Christoph Bartmann is quoted in press materials, saying that Germany’s Guest of honor program “supports our efforts to establish an intense German-Polish cultural dialogue, even in politically difficult times.
“The names of the invited authors and the titles of the events reveal that, the wide variety of topics notwithstanding, freedom of expression will be a key issue.”
Rights Activity Between the Nations
Press materials offer some interesting insights into the relationship between Poland’s and Germany’s literary cultures, as represented by trends in rights sales.
- In 2015, 367 licenses were assigned, a slight increase over 2014 (324 licenses sold).
- Since 2011, Poland has been among the 10 most important languages for the sale of foreign rights to German titles.
- Polish ranks among the 20 top languages from which German publishers translate.
- In 2015, a total of 48 Polish works were translated to German, including 16 fiction titles.
What’s more, there’s a tradition of Guest of Honor appearances by Poland and Germany at each other’s events.
- In 2000, Poland participated as Guest of Honor at Frankfurt Book Fair.
- In 2006, Germany was Guest of Honor at Warsaw Book Fair.
And according to the German Foreign Office, more than 2 million Polish students are learning German.
Special events during the German project at Warsaw include:
- “Our Image of Our Neighbor: Cultural Rapproachement in German-Polish Relations” on May 17, with the German ambassador to Poland, Rolf Nickel hosting
- A visit to the German collective stand by Nobel laureate Herta Müller, more of whose books reportedly have been translated into Polish than into any other language.
- “Quo vadis Europa?” in which Ukrainian author Yuri Andruchowytsch, German political scientist Ulrike Guérot and Polish journalist Magdalena Grochowska will discuss competing European viewpoints, with Jacek Żakowski moderating.
- “For Speech and Freedom: Opportunities and Threats at Times of Political Transition, a panel discussion featuring Artur Becker, Ewa Wanat, Marek Cichocki, and the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels’ Alexander Skipis.
Information on the complete program planned for the German collective stand at Warsaw is here.