19 October 09 | Chad W. Post

This post originally appeared on the Frankfurt Book Fair blog. I highly recommend visiting the official blog for interesting posts from Richard Nash, Alex Hippisley-Cox, and Arun Wolf

Prior to the start of the Book Fair there was a lot of speculation about what might happen: would attendance fall down thanks to economically collapsed budgets and exorbitant hotel prices? would the Fair be overrun with protests from Chinese dissidents angered by the selection of China as Guest of Honor?

Based on the first day and a half, things are clicking along as they should be. Juergen Boos, the Fair’s director, started off his special roundtable meeting by addressing the attendance question. Contrary to some people’s opinion that it “seems” less busy this year, the number of visitors to the fair dropped by a mere 0.8%, or 353 people, to 45,753. And in terms of the Rights Center, traffic is actually up by 5.8% to 3,850 visits yesterday. Obviously there’s no way to track the number of deals being done, but based on this level of traffic, it seems like business as usual. (I haven’t spent much time tracking down big book deals, but I did hear about an absolutely mental Michael Jackson graphic novel that’s coming out in the near future . . .)

A lot of questions at the “Meet the Director” lunch were directed at China being the Guest of Honor, and although he admitted that China could’ve done more in terms of freedom of speech and human rights, Boos was supportive of what China has done with this opportunity, pointing out that this was “a first step,” and the first time that China was presenting itself on foreign territory. Boos emphasized that this is the mission of the Frankfurt Book Fair: not to force the Chinese government to listen to dissidents, but to provide a platform where different people can interact with one another. A place where there are over 300 readings and presentations by dissident Chinese writers right alongside the thousands of official Chinese literary events.

The impact being Guest of Honor has on getting a country’s literature and culture out the rest of the world can not be understated. Last year only 8 works of Chinese literature (fiction and poetry) were translated into German. This year the total exceeded 160, including 60 titles that were subsidized by the Guest of Honor translation fund. And these figures are just for translations from Chinese to German—it’s virtually guaranteed that there will also be increases in the number of Chinese books published in English, Spanish, etc.

Another topic Boos touched on at the meeting was the future of the industry, shying away from making any definitive proclamations (no one can really predict the future), but drawing attention to the rise in mobile content, and his belief that this will dramatically increase over the next 3-5 years, especially in terms of STM and educational publishing.

The expansion of eBooks, mobile content, and the like, leads to the creation of a lot of new companies, and continues to provide a reason for people to attend the Frankfurt Book Fair even though more and more business is being done over e-mail and the Internet in general. As Boos said, you need to trust people to do business with them, and the best way to develop that trust is by meeting them in person. That’s what the Frankfurt Book Fair provides, and why the Book Fair continues to go strong despite the overall downturn in the economy.


Comments are disabled for this article.
....
The Matiushin Case
The Matiushin Case by Oleg Pavlov
Reviewed by Brandy Harrison

The publisher’s blurb for Oleg Pavlov’s The Matiushin Case promises the prospective reader “a Crime and Punishment for today,” the sort of comparison that is almost always guaranteed to do a disservice to both the legendary dead and the ambitious. . .

Read More >

Fear: A Novel of World War I
Fear: A Novel of World War I by Gabriel Chevallier
Reviewed by Paul Doyle

One hundred years have passed since the start of World War I and it is difficult to believe that there are still novels, considered classics in their own countries, that have never been published in English. Perhaps it was the. . .

Read More >

Little Grey Lies
Little Grey Lies by Hédi Kaddour
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

In the London of Hédi Kaddour’s Little Grey Lies, translated by Teresa Lavender Fagan, peace has settled, but the tensions, fears, and anger of the Great War remain, even if tucked away behind stories and lies. Directly ahead, as those. . .

Read More >

Autobiography of a Corpse
Autobiography of a Corpse by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
Reviewed by Simon Collinson

One of the greatest services—or disservices, depending on your viewpoint—Bertrand Russell ever performed for popular philosophy was humanizing its biggest thinkers in his History. No longer were they Platonic ideals, the clean-shaven exemplars of the kind of homely truisms that. . .

Read More >

A Musical Hell
A Musical Hell by Alejandra Pizarnik
Reviewed by Vincent Francone

The best way to review Alejandra Pizarnik’s slim collection, A Musical Hell, published by New Directions as part of their Poetry Pamphlet series, is to begin by stating that it is poetry with a capital P: serious, dense, and, some. . .

Read More >

Astragal
Astragal by Albertine Sarrazin
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

Upon completing Albertine Sarrazin’s Astragal I was left to wonder why it ever fell from print. Aside from the location, Astragal could pass as the great American novel. Its edginess and rawness capture the angst and desires we all had. . .

Read More >

Live Bait
Live Bait by Fabio Genovesi
Reviewed by Megan Berkobien

When my eyes first crossed the back cover of Fabio Genovesi’s novel Live Bait, I was caught by a blurb nestled between accolades, a few words from a reviewer for La Repubblica stating that the novel was, however magically, “[b]eyond. . .

Read More >

The Skin
The Skin by Curzio Malaparte
Reviewed by Peter Biello

“I preferred the war to the plague,” writes Curzio Malaparte in his 1949 novel, The Skin. He speaks of World War II and the destruction it has wrought on Italy, the city of Naples in particular. But the plague he. . .

Read More >

Love Sonnets & Elegies
Love Sonnets & Elegies by Louise Labé
Reviewed by Brandy Harrison

With the steady rise of feminist scholarship and criticism in recent decades, it is little wonder that the work of Louise Labé should be attracting, as Richard Sieburth tells us in the Afterword to his translation, a “wide and thriving”. . .

Read More >

Conversations
Conversations by César Aira
Reviewed by Tiffany Nichols

In Conversations, we find ourselves again in the protagonist’s conscious and subconscious, which is mostly likely that of Mr. César Aira and consistent with prototypical Aira style. This style never fails because each time Aira is able to develop a. . .

Read More >

The next few events from our Translation Events Calendar: See More Events >