The Slovenia Times

Frankfurt Book Fair opens with Slovenia in focus

CultureSlovenia at Frankfurt Book Fair
Opening of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Photo: Katja Kodba/STA

The 75th Frankfurt Book Fair opened with Slovenia as the guest of honour on 17 October. Focusing on poetry, philosophy and higher-level reading, Slovenia's appearance in Frankfurt between 18 and 22 October will feature a total of about 250 events, both at the fair and in the city.

The most widely translated Slovenian authors will be showcased at special installations at the Slovenian pavilion with an additional spotlight on architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) and Trieste-based author Boris Pahor (1913-2022). Spanning 2,400 square metres, the Slovenian pavilion is designed with bookshelves in the form of beehives to reflect the slogan of the presentation, Honeycomb of Words.

One of the biggest events organised by Slovenia will be a concert at Jahrhunderthalle on 19 October at which the industrial band Laibach will perform its symphonic work, an interpretation of Vladimir Bartol's iconic novel Alamut, together with the RTV Slovenija Symphony Orchestra and the Human Voice ensemble from Tehran.

Another major event will be a meeting between the Ljubljana and Frankfurt schools of philosophy at Goethe University on 20 October featuring Slavoj Žižek, Mladen Dolar and Alenka Zupančič from Slovenia, and Rainer Forst and Martin Saar from Germany. They will offer their critical takes on ideology.

Every day at the Slovenian pavilion will start with the poem of the day. A German-Slovenian anthology of Slovenian lyric poetry in the 20th and 21st centuries published earlier this year has been received well. Titled Mein Nachbar auf der Wolke (My Neighbour on the Cloud), it features 80 poets.

During the fair, Slovenia will also present the Ljubljana Manifesto on the importance of long-form reading in a digital era.

President Nataša Pirc Musar addresses the opening ceremony of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Photo: Katja Kodba/STA

Addressing the opening ceremony, Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar touched on the manifesto saying that "a cacophony of audio, visual and textual contents of the digital age often leads to superficial and scattered reading. But reading and understanding are not the same."

She said that books were at the very centre of cultural consciousness of the Slovenian people. "Our identity is built on the Slovenian language, which to us is closely linked to books in our cultural consciousness."

The president underlined the importance of the first printed book in the Slovenian language in which the author, the Protestant priest Primož Trubar, first addressed his nation as Slovenians, a connection that still holds true today: "Slovenians are a community determined by its language more so than by the borders of a territory."

She also mentioned the ties between the Slovenian and German nations, which go far beyond trade. Among other things, the Slovenian language was first present at a book fair in Frankfurt, the roots of which go back 500 years, over 400 years ago, when a German-Italian-Latin-Slovenian dictionary was first mentioned in a fair catalogue in 1592.

The ceremony featured addresses by the Slovenian poet Miljana Cunta, who talked about poetry making, and by philosopher Žižek, who explored the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his contribution. Among other things, he was critical of the Frankfurt Book Fair to cancelling the award ceremony for the Palestinian author Adania Shibli.

Leaving the stage, Žižek earned a loud applause, but also boos of disagreement.


More from Culture