This somewhat maudlin post originally appeared on the Frankfurt Book Fair blog.
Although the Fair doesn’t officially close for a little while, for all intents and purposes, my time here is over. I’ve met with all the people I needed to meet with, visited all the stands I needed to visit, and drank enough beer to last me till FBF ‘09 and beyond.
Despite the fact that I really need some restful sleep–without the aid of alcohol–and time to sort through all the information I’ve gathered over the past six days, I’m still a bit sad to see the fair end. I get an ache inside when I see the ice cream carts empty and shut down for the year.
To me, the fair officially ended with the “Fairwell” Reception that just took place. Sponsored by the German Book Office of New Dehli, it featured Fair Director Jurgen Boos, who compared the Fair to a palimpsest, a collection of written, erased, and rewritted experiences from which each person takes away some images and ideas important to them. He also honored the participants in the Invitation Programme for Exhibitors, a group of 25 publishers from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Central and Eastern Europe who are given a free stand at the Fair and who attend a two-day seminar to learn about the Fair and the German book market as a whole.
This year’s participants included Almadia Editorial, a young press from Oaxaca that I found out about yesterday and am excited to check out in more detail when I get home. (They have a great list and beautiful production.)
I can’t think of a good parting line . . . For anyone who has never been here, the Frankfurt Book Fair is almost impossible to summarize. It’s an intense week of meetings every half-hour on the half-hour. A week of very late nights (turn early mornings) of partying and mingling and exchanging information. It’s a chance to reconnect with international colleagues and a chance to learn more about the international publishing scene in one week than most people do in a lifetime. It’s also incredibly exhausting and extremely exhilarating to be in a place where books really, truly matter to all the tens of thousands of people in attendance. And it’s also officially over.
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .
Ilja Leonard Pfeijffer’s La Superba is appropriately titled after the Italian city of Genoa, where, after escaping the pressures of fame in his own country, the semi-autobiographical narrator finds himself cataloguing the experiences of its mesmerizing inhabitants with the intention. . .
It took reading 44 pages of Intervenir/Intervene before I began to get a sense of what Dolores Dorantes and Rodrigo Flores Sánchez were up to. Recurring throughout these 44 pages—throughout the entire book—are shovels, shovel smacks to the face, lobelias—aha!. . .
As presaged by its title, contradiction is the theme of Peter Stamm’s novel, All Days Are Night. Gillian, a well-known television personality, remains unknowable to herself. And Hubert, a frustrated artist and Gillian’s lover, creates art through the process of. . .
It’s a rare and wonderful book that begins and ends with violence and humor. At the start of Etgar Keret’s The Seven Good Years, Keret is in a hospital waiting for the birth of his first child while nurses, in. . .
Last year, Han Kang’s The Vegetarian was an unexpected critical hit. Now, it’s just been published in the U.S. and has already received a great deal of positive critical attention. The Vegetarian was a bold book to attempt as an. . .