Leipzig Book Fair to allow 'unprejudiced look' at Romania



LEIPZIG, GERMANY, Bill Heaney and Andre Jahnke (dpa)- The Leipzig Book Fair, the second-largest such event in Germany, opens to visitors on Thursday with a focus on Romania.
Speaking at the event, Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Melescanu invited visitors to take an "unprejudiced look" at his country through its literature, adding that it would contribute to "our commitment to the European project."



As special guest nation at this year's fair, Romania is presenting 40 translations into German of works by Romanian authors. Romania normally presents about three or four books in German translation, said Mihai Mitrica, head of the Romanian publishers' association.
Skadi Jennicke, the mayor of Leipzig, described Romanian literature as "wild and rugged," adding that the country's difficult history could be detected in it.
The fair's official opening ceremony on Wednesday was overshadowed by a demonstration that saw some 400 people in the eastern German city protesting the participation of right-wing publishers in the book fair.
The organizers have defended the presence of right-wing publishers, saying they have a right to be there if they have not violated the constitution as the fair stands for freedom and diversity of opinion.
Some 300,000 people are expected to visit the fair, which runs until Sunday and which features 2,600 exhibitors from 48 countries.
Parallel to the fair, visitors can take part in the "Leipzig liest" (Leipzig reads) festival and a graphic novel fair, Manga Comic Con.
On Thursday, German author Esther Kinsky won the book fair's fiction prize for her novel "Hain. Gelaenderoman," which is endowed with a sum of 15,000 euros (18,500 dollars).
At Wednesday's opening ceremony, Norwegian author Asne Seierstad was awarded the 20,000-euro Leipzig Book Fair Prize for European Understanding for her work "One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway."
"To be a writer means capturing responses, silences and acts in words and getting them down on paper," Seierstad said in German as she received the award.
The book fair's main award, the 60,000-euro Leipzig Book Fair Prize, was due to be awarded on Thursday afternoon.
The fair takes place amid plummeting numbers of readers in Germany despite relatively stable revenues. Some 6 million fewer people bought books in Germany between 2012 and 2016; this was balanced by the remaining book lovers buying more and more expensive books.
"The industry is taking the situation very seriously," says Alexander Skipis, chief managing director of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association.
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Wednesday, March 21st 2018
Bill Heaney and Andre Jahnke
           


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