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November 2001 - Nr. 11

 

The Editor
Antje berichtet
5. Brief aus Kanada
6. Brief aus Kanada
Sprachschule
Dreams of Mark DuBois
Echo-Lines
Pioneer Day
Oktoberfest
Oldest Lutheran Church
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Down On The Town
Randy Spires
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehŲrt?
The Golden Centre
Into Christmas Spirit
Lure of "Lorelei"
Kafkaesque?
Airline Subsidies
Frankfurt Book Fair
In Brief
DaimlerChrysler
Genetic Conference
Lacquer Collection
Nobel Prize
New Yorker funds art

Frankfurt Book Fair


Publishers Talk of Healing New East-West Divide

 TWIG - Representatives of more than 6,000 publishing houses joined booksellers, authors and literary agents in Frankfurt Tuesday, October 9, as the 53rd International Book Fair slowly got off the ground. Fairgoers are facing longer lines than usual this year because of rigorous security checks at the doors of exhibit halls.

State Minister for Cultural Affairs Julian Nida-Ruemelin launched the event with an appeal for greater respect for human life across the world. The culture minister was standing in for Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who was in the United States for the day.

The September 11 attacks and their aftermath have raised a number of issues at the fair, including the need for more liberal exchange between Western publishers and their colleagues in the Islamic world. So far the literary exchange between the West and Muslim countries is a one-way street running east, and even that road is riddled with obstacles, says UNESCO book expert Chandran Nair. But it isnít religious or political differences that get in the way - the main barriers are economic and linguistic.

The Association of German Publishers and Booksellers argues German companies should fund more projects in Arab countries, where publishers often lack the money even to buy paper for the printer. "We can make a big difference by supporting books about the position of women or the rights of minorities, for example," says association spokesman Eugen Emmerling. Germanyís leading organization for promoting German culture abroad, the Goethe Institute/Inter Nationes, has established a translation fund in cooperation with the German Foreign Office. Such programs need to be expanded, says Emmerling. "We need much more access to those who think differently."

Bringing literature from Muslim countries to the West presents other challenges. Of the approximately 7,600 translations published in Germany last year, only 18 were from Arabic languages. Frankfurtís Suhrkamp Verlag has ties with publishers in Syria, Egypt and Lebanon and is working to expand its Middle East list. "After September 11, of course, we feel especially called upon," says Suhrkampís Petra Hardt. Many authors in these countries would like to get published by Suhrkamp, Hardt explains. The problem is in the selection. "We have no one in-house who speaks Arabic. We need a scout who can read these texts and tell us whether they fit into our program."

Hardt says readers in Muslim countries show a strong interest in German literature, especially in classic modern authors such as Hermann Hesse and Bertholt Brecht. But many places simply donít have the infrastructure needed to make bookselling profitable. One of the largest markets for German books in the Middles East is Lebanon. Thanks to a translation grant, bookstores there will soon carry a collection of essays by philosopher Juergen Habermas, winner of this yearís Peace Prize of the German Book Trade.

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