Frankfurt: Guest of Honor Slovenia Hands Off to Italy 2024

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The Frankfurter Buchmesse ‘Guest Scroll’ has been handed from Slovenia to Italy as Frankfurt Book Fair closes its 75th edition.

The Italian-American violinist Francesca Dego performs at the Frankfurter Buchmesse guest of honor handover event in the Guest of Honor Slovenia pavilion, with the Slovenian team handing the ‘GuestScroll’ to Italy, which now holds the 2024 designation. Image: FBM, Marc Jacquemin

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

Stergar: ‘Like a Roller-Coaster Ride’
In the closing hours of the 75th Frankfurter Buchmesse on Sunday afternoon (October 22), the traditional guest of honor handover ceremony featured Slovenia passing the bespoke “Guest Scroll” used on this occasion every year to Guest of Honor Italy for 2024.

Participants in the ceremony included Katja Stergar, director of the Slovenian Book Agency (JAK), and Mauro Mazza, Rome’s special commissioner to the program, along with Slovenian author Dušan Jelinčič and Italian writer Ilaria Tuti, who spoke by video.

Music at the event featured the Italian-American violinist Francesca Dego, who plays a Francesco Ruggeri violin (1697, Cremona).

Since Slovenia received the Guest Scroll from Spain in October 2022, Slovenian authors, poets, philosophers, artists and musicians and their work have been presented at numerous events in the German-speaking world. One of the most important elements of the Frankfurt guest of honor program is an intensely comprehensive program of international cultural exchange that places events and activities in many parts of Germany for the year of the guest of honor designation.

Some 100 Slovenian books reportedly have been published in German and numerous titles have been sold into in other European languages since that market’s guest of honor project began. The international exhibition Books on Slovenia, which was shown at the fair, included some 400 works.

Slovenia’s guest of honor pavilion, designed by Ljubljana’s Studio Sadar,  proved to be popular with trade visitors as well as members of the public on Frankfurt weekend, with its more than 70 events featuring authors, poets, and intellectuals from Slovenia and the world of international publishing.

Thanks to its two auditoriums with subtle hexagonal beehive motifs and the “canyon” seating’s sustainable architecture, the pavilion brought not only the guest of honor motto Honeycomb of Words but also aesthetic references to the Slovenian landscape, including “clouds” of ornate lace overhead. During the fair, numerous readings, philosophical debates and exhibitions took place in the city, along with an exclusive concert of the contemporary-classical symphonic work Alamut by the avant-garde ensemble Laibach.

Special commendation has been made to the fact that much of the Slovenian programming had to do with the business of international publishing, in many cases stagings of B2B sessions being among the strongest and most important draws of the fair.

As we’ve reported, Juergen Boos, president and CEO of Frankfurter Buchmesse, tells Publishing Perspectives that he anticipates seeing the fair going forward in partnership to support the Slovenian initiative introduced as its Sadar Studio-designed pavilion was opened: The Ljubljana Reading Manifesto. The Ljubljana Manifesto is focused on “higher-level reading,” the immersive-reading skill set and complex-comprehension format that many specialists are warning is disappearing from the international reading space as visual narratives and short-form reading tasks challenge the faculty for long-form reading.

Mazza: ‘A Cultural Closeness’

Italy’s special commissioner for Guest of Honor Italy 2024 receives the ‘Guest Scroll’ from Katja Stergar, director of the 2023 Guest of Honor Slovenia program, during the closing hours of the 75th Frankfurter Buchmesse on October 22. Image: FBM: Marc Jacquemin

Speaking for the Slovenian program, its director, Stergar, said, “We are very pleased to have used such an extensive program to present Slovenian culture to the German-speaking and international audience in Frankfurt.

“Participating in the guest of honor project was like a roller-coaster ride with all its ups and downs. But you’re never alone, there’s always a helping hand, a word of encouragement, and a smile from someone providing support. The guest of honor pavilion and the events with all the authors on the fairgrounds and beyond attracted a great deal of interest.

“Today I’m delighted to present the Guest Scroll to our neighbor Italy, since I know that our story will continue to be told next year, thanks to the Slovenian minority living there.”

Mazza, accepting the Guest Scroll for Italy from Stergar, said, “Between our two countries there’s not only a geographical proximity but also a cultural closeness, despite the beauty of their respective differences.

“This event offered us the opportunity to celebrate the value of proximity in the name of literature.”

As Publishing Perspectives readers know, Italy’s guest of honor theme is Roots in the Future and its programming will shortly be coming into focus in our reports here.

The Frankfurter Buchmesse ‘Guest Scroll,’ passed from one guest of honor market to the next, is here seen on October 22 set to the next country to take up the designation: Guest of Honor Italy 2024. Image: FBM, Marc Jacquemin


More from Publishing Perspectives on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on Slovenia is here, more on Italy is here, more on the world’s international trade shows and book fairs is here, and more on guest of honor programs is here. To learn more about this year’s Guest of Honor Slovenia program, see its dedicated site at SloveniaFrankfurt2023.com/en.

Now available here for your free download, our 2023 Publishing Perspectives Frankfurt Book Fair magazine

Our 75th Frankfurt coverage from our Frankfurt Book Fair Magazine, which has been available throughout the trade show in print, is also available for your free download.

The magazine has more interviews with fellows and grant-program recipients from international publishing markets, as well as previews of programming from our Publishing Perspectives Forum at Frankfurt including our Executive Talks with Penguin Random House worldwide CEO Nihar Malaviya and Nanmeebooks’ Kim Chongsatitwana; highlights of key events at the 75th Frankfurter Buchmesse; and coverage of Frankfurt’s upcoming guest of honor programs (Italy, the Philippines, the Czech Republic) and this year’s Guest of Honor Slovenia.

There’s also news of literary agents and agencies; award-winning books from guest of honor markets; focus articles on artificial intelligence, sustainability; and a forthcoming effort to get more Korean literature into world markets; as well as 75th-anniversary “Frankfurt Moments.”

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.com, 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.