In Italy, Guest of Honor Organizers Plan ‘Moments of Debate’

In News by Porter Anderson

In Italy, organizers of the forthcoming guest of honor program for Frankfurt say they’re adding ‘moments of debate’ to their presentation.

At Messe Frankfurt during Frankfurter Buchmesse 2015. Image: FBM, Alexander Heimann

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

‘Maximum Freedom of Expression of Ideas’
As Publishing Perspectives readers will recall, at the time of the Guest of Honor Italy news conference was held for the forthcoming Frankfurter Buchmesse (October 16 to 20), was produced on May 29, it was understood that the Italian organizers’ selections of some 100 authors for the program had been criticized in Italy.

At issue, according to such authors as novelist Sandro Veronesi, was the fact that a left-leaning colleague, author Roberto Saviano, had not been included, and there was a perception that the Giorgia Meloni government had exerted some influence on the choices of authors.

Organizers in Italy have said that a process with publishers and literary agents created the invitational delegation list, and that the Association of Italian Publishers (Associazione Italiana Editori, AIE)—which is leading the development of the guest of honor program—”would never have allowed and will never allow external interference with respect to the will of the publishers.” At the same time, the Frankfurt administration pointed out that it’s not involved in any guest of honor market’s internal decisions for programming and the makeup of a delegation. As Torsten Casimir, vice-president for communications and content, confirmed to Publishing Perspectives, whatever any guest of honor decides, “we emphasize that for Frankfurter Buchmesse, diversity of opinions, of perspectives, and the freedom of the word are essential.”

A New Statement from Italy

In Milan, the offices of the AIE communicated on Monday (June 24) to Publishing Perspectives that the Guest of Honor Italy program has accepted a request from  authors for the addition of “moments of debate” previously not included in the outline of the programming.

The president of the publishers’ association, Innocenzo Cipolletta, has issued this statement to the news media on the subject:

“We received a letter from a group of Italian authors. We are sharing a response with the Buchmesse: We will accept the authors’ request to add moments of debate to the opportunities already identified.

Innocenzo Cipolletta

“We have always worked so that all authors feel at home, and we continue to work in this spirit.

“All those who have received and accepted the invitation to participate in the Buchmesse will be able to express themselves freely in the Italian Guest of Honor Pavilion during the scheduled meetings which, as already expected, will see German personalities in the role of mediators and moderators between the international public and the authors themselves.

“In addition, we are collecting requests from foreign publishers, particularly German ones, to further enhance the Italian authorial presence in Frankfurt.”

“The world of books,” Cipolletta goes on to write, relies on “the maximum freedom of expression of ideas, and from this freedom it draws the strength to allow the book to still be the most effective instrument for the diffusion of thought today.

“The Buchmesse is largely the most representative event of this context, with its rights trading capacity for literature at an international level, [the means by which] “ideas leave national borders and spread globally.

“For this reason we are pleased to add, also in agreement with Commissioner Mauro Mazza” [the Extraordinary Commissioner selected by Rome to lead the guest of honor effort] “a moment of debate to the opportunities already identified, as requested by the signatories of the letter.”

Details on specific programming for the Guest of Honor Program is to be forthcoming as provided to us by the “Destination Frankfurt” team in Italy.

More from Publishing Perspectives on Italy and its book publishing industry is here, and more on the Italian Publishers Association (AIE) is here. More on Frankfurter Buchmesse is here, more on its guest of honor program is here, and more on Guest of Honor Italy 2024 is here.

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.