By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
‘A Major Celebration of Literature and Culture’
Just two weeks after Publishing Perspectives reported the announcement that Italy will be the Frankfurter Buchmesse’s Guest of Honor market in 2023, Frankfurt has announced today (February 20) that Slovenia will precede Italy, as the 2022 Guest of Honor.
The arrangement has been made by Juergen Boos, director of the Frankfurter Buchmesse, and the Slovenian Book Agency director Renata Zamida. On hand with them in Ljubljana at the signing of the contract was Anton Peršak, Slovenia’s minister of culture, and a group of authors and publishers.
The World Bank’s figures indicate that the Slovenian population in 2016 was 2.065 million. Data provided by Frankfurt shows that the Slovenian market produces some 4,000 titles annually, comprising 300 poetry collections, 500 novels and as many as 900 children’s books.
The country’s first appearance in Frankfurt was in 1997, just six years after Ljubljana had gained independence from Yugoslavia. The Slovenian Book Agency operates with an annual budget of €4.5 million in promoting the country’s literature, with €500,000 earmarked for expanding the international reach of Slovenian authors in translation and publication.
In a prepared statement, Boos is quoted, saying, “Literature plays an exceptional role in Slovenian society. Thirty years after Slovenian intellectuals and authors created the basis for the constitution with their ‘writers’ constitution’ after the declaration of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Slovenia is preparing a major celebration of its literature and culture in Frankfurt.
“The local literary scene is very vibrant and extends far beyond the country’s borders. I’m delighted to see the great value placed on poetry in Slovenian society.
“We’re very much looking forward to the appearance of Slovenian authors and publishers in Frankfurt and, with them, will discover the stories of the Guest of Honor.”
‘Many Positive Expectations’
Zamida, speaking for the Slovenian Book Agency, is quoted, saying, “Founded in 1991, Slovenia will be one of the ‘youngest’ countries to appear as Guest of Honor at the Frankfurter Buchmesse.
“However, Slovenian literature as such has existed for much longer than the independent state of Slovenia–and its influence extends far beyond its borders.
“Consider, for example, the many respected literary works by Slovenian authors in neighboring countries, such as Maja Haderlap in Carinthia or Boris Pahor, who lives in Trieste and is already considered a classic Slovenian writer of contemporary literature in Italy, France and Germany.
“The world’s most important book fair offers a unique opportunity to present the full spectrum of Slovenian literature and culture to an international audience. The entire Slovenian cultural community—and the book sector in particular, of course—has many positive expectations for Slovenia’s appearance in Frankfurt in 2022. We’ve noticed that the lead-up to this appearance is already having an impact beyond our borders, attracting the attention of the international publishing world.”
And the ministry’s Peršak says, “The Slovenian government and cultural sector consider this invitation a unique opportunity to showcase the accomplishments of Slovenian literature and of the nation itself—its rich culture, quality literature encompassing all genres, and longstanding tradition of literary creativity—at the Frankfurter Buchmesse.
“Slovenia has made a number of remarkable international breakthroughs in various cultural spheres, leaving its mark on the European and global stage despite its small size and less than three decades as a sovereign state and independent cultural entity. The country’s planned participation in Frankfurt is a tremendous opportunity to promote its activities.”
Ljubljana holds two UNESCO titles: In 2010, it was the world body’s World Book Capital and in 2016 it was granted the permanent title of City of Literature.
The organizing committee for 2022 will be placing special emphasis on rights promotion and licensing as it introduces its literary life to the German public and the international industry.