Each year, the Frankfurt Book Fair has a special guest of honor which is a country or a region that is highlighted. In past years, this honor has gone to Latin America (1976), Italy(1988), Brazil(1994), Poland(2000), China(2009), and most recently Iceland(2011). This year’s guest of honor isNew Zealand.
Why is there a guest of honor each year? This from the Buchmesse (book fair) website:
The main aims of the Frankfurt Book Fair are to help the publishing industry and the cultural institutions of the guest country to network more effectively on an international scale, to make its literature better known around the world, and to increase the number of translations emerging from the country.
To this end, the Guest of Honour usually sets up a translation support programme. From the point of view of the book industry, this helps to boost the trade in rights and licences, and it helps publishers to develop their international contacts – even after the year as Guest of Honour has ended. The industry also benefits as a whole from the extra attention it receives due to the promotion of its authors and the presence of the publishers at the biggest book fair in the world.
For the readers and the general public, the Guest of Honour appearance enables them to experience the country’s literature and culture, and it also stimulates their curiosity for its politics, history and current affairs. The country experiences a huge upswing in media interest (in 2010, the Guest of Honour Argentina was mentioned in more than 5,000 media reports).
The general cultural programme that accompanies the Guest of Honour appearance helps to create (sustainable) international cultural relations; it encourages cultural exchanges and dialogue, as well as increased tourism, of course
For each guest of honor , an entire program is built around their country or region. This year is no different. There are programs and events every day of the Book Fair that center around New Zealand and its publishing industry, including an exhibition of painter Stephen Bambury’s work, a virtual New Zealand writers’ walk, and an exhibition entitled “Incredibly Hot Sex with Hideous People–Zines from New Zealand.” Many, many more events and exhibitions are planned. To see the full New Zealand-centric schedule, visit the Buchmesse Guest of Honor Webpage.