15-18 March 2018
The international Leipzig Book Fair is undoubtedly one of the most important book festivals and has one of the most significant literary cultures in the world. During the four-day festival, more than two hundred and fifty thousand visitors enter the gates of the fair’s premises. In comparison, this is about six times more than the visitors who come annually to Book World Prague. A series of meetings with authors, discussion forums, book presentations and accompanying exhibitions are prepared for them. A substantive part of the fair takes place during the first day, when the “Leipzig Reads” (Leipzig liest) festival starts.
Visiting the fair in Leipzig is a must, not only for serious and respectable European publishers, but also for national states that want to gain more visibility at the fair. In fact, Leipzig is a key player in the book market in Germany. Due to this, talks regarding the guest of honour at the fair were started by the Czech Republic three years ago and turned out well. The Czech Republic will be the focus country of the fair next year, in March 2019.
The Moravian Library in Brno is in charge of preparing Czech authors and Czech literary cultural presentations. The preparations have been coordinated by a dramaturgy council for two years. There, leading experts, who focus on Czech literature, culture and the presentation abroad on various levels, debate about the future Czech programme and its form.
This year’s book fair in Leipzig is to open on Thursday, March 15th, and will last until Sunday, the 18th March. On its very first day, the fair’s long-time director, Oliver Zille, will ceremoniously announce the Czech Republic as the guest of honour for the year 2019. At a press conference, attended by the Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic, Ilja Šmíd, Mr. Zille and prominent representatives of the city of Leipzig, the state of Saxony and the Czech Republic will announce the programme of the Czech Year. It will include the presentation within the fair’s week in 2019, and also feature contemporary Czech culture in the German-speaking region throughout the whole year, from October 2018 to November 2019. Dozens of cultural institutions from the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland and Austria are involved in the Czech Year project, not only in Saxon Leipzig, but also in the whole German-speaking region. Czech writers, literary culture, thinking, art, comics, music, design and photography will be introduced during these fourteen months. Similarly, audiences in Prague, Brno and other cities in the Czech Republic will get an opportunity to enjoy contemporary German literary forms and topics.
The aim of the Czech Year project is to intensify Czech and German cultural contact and, in general, to increase awareness between the two countries with such a close history, language and geography. That is why many programmes of the Czech Year are designed to become permanent parts of the Czech and German cultural exchange.
Some samples and illustrations will be offered to German audiences in this year’s fair. There will be author’s readings, and discussions with prominent figures of contemporary Czech prose, poetry and drama. Michal Ajvaz, Bianca Bellová, Petr Borkovec, David Drábek, Sylva Fischerová, Arnošt Goldflam, Jiří Hájíček and Petr Hruška will introduce their contemporary works, and the current form of the Czech literature and literary life.
The increased intensity of promoting Czech literature in connection with the Czech Year has already had positive effects in the German-speaking region. This is proven by the quantity of applications for the support of Czech book translations to German this year. While in the past, there used to be three or four applications on a regular basis, this year there were more than thirty in the first round.