The Slovenia Times

Slovenia to spotlight 65 writers at Frankfurt Book Fair

CultureSlovenia at Frankfurt Book Fair

Slovenia will feature 65 writers as it appears for the first time as the guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair from 18 to 22 October this year. The country hopes that, as a result of its diverse presentation at the fair, interest in its literature, and culture in general, will increase and more books will be translated into foreign languages.

A hundred events will be held at the national pavilion and stall plus another 100 at 22 venues around Frankfurt. However, they won't be limited either to the fair or Frankfurt, as many more will take place around Germany and Austria.

Priding itself as a country of beekeeping, Slovenia will present its literary gems and culture to global readers and publishers under the slogan Honeycomb of Words.

Authors in focus merely tip of the cultural iceberg

Curator Miha Kovač says the aim is to highlight the country's special location where various cultures meet and the fact that global phenomena Laibach and Slavoj Žižek are merely the tip of the iceberg under which there is "plenty of extremely good and interesting cultural products".

Among the selected authors are 34 women and 31 men whose works have been translated over the past two years, which makes Slovenia only the third guest country in Frankfurt to feature more women writers than men, says Kovač, one of the three curators alongside translators Amalija Maček and Matthias Göritz.

Some of the authors will be highlighted at the pavilion, foremost those with the largest number of German or other translations, including philosopher Slavoj Žižek and writers Evald Flisar, Drago Jančar, Goran Vojnović, Aleš Šteger and Lila Prap.

Slovenian ethnic minority writers from Italy and Austria are also on the list, including Dušan Jelinčič, Florjan Lipuš and Maja Haderlap, alongside foreign authors living in Slovenia - Erica Johnson Debeljak and Noah Charney.

The selection is in line with the fair's practice of inviting German and other publishers to send their translations of Slovenian authors, which are then put on show alongside translations into other languages.

However, in addition to these authors, others will take part in the project, either at other book fairs or various literary events and projects, such as Slovenian poetry vending machines, literary tours and art residencies.

The headline event during the fair will be a concert by Slovenian band Laibach with its new project Alamut, based on the acclaimed 1938 novel by Vladimir Bartol.

Interestingly, Slovenian poetry and philosophy - quite demanding genres with relatively few readers which require focused reading - are the flagships among the Slovenian works translated into foreign languages.

This is why the country will take the opportunity of the Frankfurt fair to highlight as its special feature deep reading, a topic of much debate in Europe and the US.

Preparations running smoothly, ambitions great

Frankfurt Book Fair director Juergen Boos says Slovenia's preparations for the fair are running smoothly. Among the authors he has highlighted poet Srečko Kosovel (1904-1926), and contemporary novelist Drago Jančar, whom he says is his favourite author.

Slovenia's presentation at the fair is in the hands of the Slovenian Book Agency, whose director Katja Stergar says that with all the activities as part the Frankfurt Book Fair, Slovenia is penetrating the German-speaking cultural space and beyond.

Culture Minister Asta Vrečko says that the fair will showcase Slovenia as an open country located at the meeting point of cultures oriented towards sustainability and solidarity, that is far beyond the parameters of a book fair.

The country's preparations for the fair began in 2016 when German publishers started making study trips to Slovenia. The project will cost seven million euro, provided by the Culture Ministry.

Guest of honour's pavilion modelled on bees

Slovenia's 2,400-square-metre pavilion, designed by Studio Sadar, reflects the slogan Honeycomb of Words in that it uses sustainable materials and brings book shelves in the form of honeycomb or beehives.

It consists of the main area, which will also feature an exhibition of Slovenian books translated into German, and of two smaller venues for various presentations and talks plus a cafe with a small stage for concerts and food events.


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