No Boundaries: Guests of Honour (Countries) and their Literary Presentations
Thousands of books are translated into German every year, mainly from English, but also from French and Japanese, according to data from the German Publishers & Booksellers Association. The statistics include just a negligible number of other languages.
But there is no such thing as too much insight into other countries, languages, societies and people. Presenting as a Guest of Honour attracts a lot of media attention leading to high visibility for their authors, works and interests with publishers, the media and a wider audience. The focus is not just on the literary scene of the respective country or language. Guests of Honour enrich Leipzig Book Fair program, whether at the trade fair grounds or in the city of Leipzig, with additional music, performances, film art, exhibitions or speciality cuisine.
Previous Guests of honour have surprised many a visitor to the Book Fair with a firework display of literature and culture, delighting the general public. Each Guest of Honour (Country) has been an asset to Leipzig Book Fair and its guests. Meanwhile, Guests of Honour in Leipzig have also been able to build sustainable networks with publishing house representatives, translators, authors, booksellers and event organizers.
Guests of Honour (Countries) at a Glance
2023: Austria - meaoiswiamia
Open and diverse, progessive and courageous, gifted with humour and capable of self-criticism - this is how Austria presents itself as the guest country of the Leipzig Book Fair 2023. Under the motto "meaoiswiamia", meaning "more than us", Austria will present its diverse book scene to an international reading public in the coming months, with well-known authors, new literary voices and top-class publishers. The programme reflects the broad spectrum of Austria's literary production and makes the multilingual, multicultural and multireligious literary and book landscape visible. All genres are represented: From fiction, poetry, essays and drama to children's and youth literature, non-fiction, guidebooks, science books and illustrated books, Austria will present the entire spectrum of its book publications at the Leipzig Book Fair and in the accompanying programme.
2022: Portugal - Unexpected Encounters
Portuguese is a world language: it is the mother tongue of around 250 million people, including second language speakers the number is 273 million. In 2022, the focus was therefore not only on Portugal as a country, but on the literature in Portuguese in which authors in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America express themselves. Around 30 authors presented themselves under the motto "The unexpected encounter of the different". Around 50 new publications were translated for the German book market in the course of the guest country presentation. The thematic focal points of the guest country appearance included heroines in Portuguese literature, restlessness as a creative force or unexpected encounters, also with Germany.
Portugal's Guest of Honour appearance was originally planned for 2021, but had to be postponed to 2022 due to the cancellation of the Leipzig Book Fair due to the pandemic. Despite the renewed cancellation of the Leipzig Book Fair due to the pandemic, the host country presented itself in 2022 within the framework of selected events on site as well as online.
2019: Czech Republic – Ahoj Leipzig
Back in October 2018, the Czech Ministry of Culture and the Moravian National Library in Brno launched the Czech Year of Culture, bringing books, writers, thinkers, art, comics, music, design and photography from the Czech Republic to the entire German-speaking world.
The absolute highlight of the Czech Year of Culture was the Czech Republic's appearance as Host Country at the Leipzig Book Fair from 21 to 24 March 2019. Almost 60 authors and artists booked their trip to Leipzig where they presented their latest works and enjoyed discussing literature and culture with both their peers and the public.
Five authors from the Czech Republic and five from Germany took advantage of the host country residency programme to work on their latest books from August 2018 to January 2019 in Leipzig and Brno respectively. They brought samples of their work about their respective countries to the Leipzig Book Fair.
Following the host country presentation, the newly translated Czech books were presented in houses of literature and cultural institutions throughout many cities in Germany, Austria and Switzerland: in Berlin, Dresden, Bremen, Frankfurt, Munich and Heidelberg, in Vienna, Linz, Salzburg and Graz as well as in Zurich and Basel.
2018: Romania. Zoom In
Romanian literature was given a warm welcome from 15 to 18 March under the title "Romania. Zoom In." Across more than 50 events, visitors had the chance to immerse themselves in a lively showcase of the cultural scene in the second-largest country in Eastern Europe.
The literary journey not only led to contemporary and classic Romanian literary works but also included over 40 new translations, presented for the first time at the Leipzig Book Fair. There was also an exciting programme of cultural fringe events. In addition to literature, the fair also featured film, photography and music from Romania.
Programme highlights included the "Romanian Film Days", the photo exhibition "There Was Always Hope – Former Russian Deportees Remember", as well as the literary-musical encounter between writer Herta Müller and Romanian musician Ada Milea.
2017: Lithuania – To Be Continued
Lithuania was presented at the Leipzig Book Fair as an integrative part of Europe: With readings, talks, debates on current political issues, photo and film presentations, contributions from contemporary artists and a musical programme.
The programme also included events to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Johannes Bobrowski (1917–1965). The German lyricist and storyteller's central themes were the landscapes of Eastern Europe as well as the languages and myths of the Baltic cultures and Lithuania in particular.
Another focus was on showcasing young Lithuanian bookmaking art. There was also a "historical studio of German-Lithuanian gastronomic relations" and a gift from the Leipzig Trade Fair to visitors: a collection of cultural-historical essays on the art, history and culture of the modern state of Lithuania.
Lithuania – Country in Focus at the Leipzig Book Fair 2017 was organised by the Lithuanian Culture Institute and the Leipzig Book Fair in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in Germany, the Lithuanian Publishers Association, the Lithuanian State Tourism Board and the Goethe-Institut Lithuania.
2015: 1965–2015. Germany–Israel – Celebrating 50 Years of Diplomatic Relations Between Israel and Germany
In 2015, Germany and Israel celebrated a special anniversary: 50 years of Germany–Israeli diplomatic relations. Twenty years after the end of the Nazi regime and the genocide of some six million Jews, and seventeen years after the founding of the State of Israel, the establishment of diplomatic relations on 12 May 1965 was a historic achievement.
With its focus on "1965 to 2015.Germany–Israel", the Leipzig Book Fair 2015 paid tribute to the unique relationship between the two states. Numerous authors from Israel and Germany spoke at the literary event, discussing the past, present and future.
Over the course of the fair from 12 to 15 March 2015, 40 authors from Israel and Germany travelled to Leipzig for a total of 74 readings, panel discussions and reading parties. They presented different facets of the German–Israeli relationship and reflections on life in each other's society.
This special focus was organised by the Embassy of Israel in Berlin and Club Bertelsmann in cooperation with German publishers and other partners. The programme was supported by the Leipzig Book Fair and the City of Leipzig.
2014: Switzerland – Swiss Presentation
Switzerland was the focus of the Leipzig Book Fair in 2014. It brought literature and culture to the city and region: as popular as it was intellectually compelling, as effective as it was refreshing – and also as sustainable as possible. It also deepened a literary bond rooted in mutual friendship between the Saxons and the Swiss.
A total of 80 authors and 70 publishers presented their current works in Leipzig. Various facets of Swiss culture were on display in the Glass Hall at the Leipziger Messe, at the Swiss collective stand, in the Schauspiel Leipzig, in the Museum of Fine Arts, in schools and in many other places, from literature, film and theatre, to architecture, design and digital art.
The red benches remain in Leipzig's city centre as a visual reminder of the Swiss presentation, where they invite visitors to sit and linger for a while. The Swiss presentation was organised by the Swiss Booksellers and Publishers Association SBVV, with the kind support of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia, Präsenz Schweiz, Switzerland Tourism and Keystone, as well as the Leipzig Book Fair.