The Frankfurt Book Fair is in full swing, exhibiting the full spectrum of all the literary and publishing world has to offer. What is this spectrum, you ask? At one extreme great writers and an array of fantastic books – some already available in English, others calling out from their respective countries’ stands saying “translate me, you won’t regret it!”
At the other extreme, for example, a stand with the name of L. Ron Hubbard and nary a mention of Scientology apparently because they have his sci-fi and adventure books on display. Best of all, they have a weathered looking German guy, for all I know an actor from the old East German adaptations of Karl May novels, dressed as an Indian chief in a feathered head dress and brown face paint. Nearby, there’s a publisher from Texas with books titled Deutsche Soldaten and catalogs of SS soldiers, glamorized and gloomy tomes about German warriors ancient and modern. Does anyone have a feeling these publishers might not be voting for Romney because he’s a bleeding heart liberal?
Lunatics aside, the focus of the fair is (or should be) books, and there are so many interesting ones it requires a little narrowing down not to get lost in a haze of derivative book covers and magnetic Harry Potter bookmarks (at €5.99 each). So, what to expect in upcoming posts – a Slovenian publisher has an English translation of a 1938 novel about Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, a rediscovered Slovenian woman writer of the 1920 and 30s who traveled around the world and a yet-to-be translated three-part work of investigative journalism on the illegal arms trade.
Also, the NEA’s Ira Silverberg on the role of small presses and e-books on bringing backlists back into circulation. An innovative Russian publisher brings contemporary Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian and even Central Asian writing to Western Readers still stuck in Soviet, if not, Tsarist and Tolstoyan times. And more, lots more.