The Frankfurt Book Fair belongs to my favourite times of the year. To spend days surrounded by books, what’s not to love? This year was my fifth experience, I was there three days on my own and one with Second Daughter. Once again, the Buchmesse did not disappoint.
The programme contains so many wonderful talks, interviews, presentations and events that dilemmas always occur. Inevitably, I spend hours preparing for my visit and concocting my own agenda. Let me share some of my personal 2018 edition highlights with you; the full photo gallery is available here.
You may have noticed the #onthesamepage hashtag on social media. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turned 70 this year, the Frankfurt Book Fair and the German Publishers & Booksellers Association joined forces to launch an international campaign on human rights. During the Book Fair, several events were held and I attended the Human Rights – How can I help? discussion with Melissa Fleming, UNHCR Head of Communications, writer Zoë Beck and Michiel Kolman, President of the International Publisher’s Association. There was also a stand where you could share your thoughts on a wall and pick up a copy of the Declaration, information and badges.
Cameroonian author Enoh Meyomesse talked to us about his home and adoptive countries. Enoh was one of the Writers in Exile from PEN Deutschland and was interviewed by Franziska Sperr, vice-president of the programme. He read some extracts of his book, Diary of an African Illegal Person, in French, repeated by Franziska in German. More to come about Enoh Meyomesse, Writers in Exile and PEN on Funky Wellies Random Thoughts.
The interview of John Sargent, CEO of Macmillan, who stressed how essential the defense of the freedom of speech is, was very interesting. I especially enjoyed his tale of the publication of Fire and Fury and his sense of humour. I was also very pleased to hear his lack of concern about books being replaced by TV/film or new technologies!
The talks with Kamila Shamsie, winner of the Women’s Prize for Fiction with Home Fire, and Megan Wolitzer presenting The Female Persuasion were equally fascinating. Both very much appealed to my feminist side!
The session Series of Success with West of Liberty, from Thomas Engström, as a case study provided a lot of insight about the process of transforming a book into a movie or TV series. It was followed by From Book to Screen, where nine books were pitched. I was impressed with both the participants pitching and Syd Atlas, the moderator.
A Book Fair without coming home with a book signed by an author whose work you love would not really be a Book Fair. This year, I am pleased to report that the lovely Cecelia Ahern signed my copy of Lyrebird.
I also liked the visit of the Georgia Pavilion, the Guest of Honour 2018, with its beautiful images and words, a morning meditation workshop and a virtual reality experience on the Phoenix Style stand.
This edition was blessed with fabulous weather. Everyone soaked up the warm rays in between meeting and events, taking advantage of the great outside space. This year, it featured the new amazing Frankfurt Pavilion, its architecture airy and luminous, and a vast improvement over the huge tent present the other years. The Lesezelt, hosting a string of authors and proposing a broad choice of delicious YOGI TEAs, was there too, as well as a variety of food trucks and the reading corner with its comfortable oversized cushions.
Needless to say, I came home with many items added on my ever-growing Books to buy list… Until next year!