Flemish authors enrich German-language bookcase
‘The book trade’s Gentse feesten.’ That’s how Diego Rodriguez, part of the international promotion and projects team, describes this year’s Leipzig Book Fair. A chance conversation with a stand builder who was putting up stands when Leipzig was still in the DDR, more than thirty years ago, reinforces that sentiment. ‘Visitors are so central to this fair that it’s as if the fair belongs to them,’ he confirms.
Stylish and unpretentious
But there was a lot more to discover in Leipzig beyond that. Diego was deeply impressed by the stylish, unassuming yet visible presence of ‘alles außer flach’ (anything but flat), a campaign organized jointly by the Dutch Foundation for Literature and Flanders Literature for their countries’ turn as Guest of Honour at the German book fair in 2024. Guest of Honour in 2023 was Austria, but the public was able to enjoy a foretaste.
Promising translation figures
The German reading public has seemed well able to find its way to literature from Flanders ever since the Netherlands and Flanders were Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2016, as indicated by the sixty translations that have been published or will be published between 2021 and 2024. It’s now time to introduce German readers to a new generation of authors. Yannick Geens, coordinator of Flemish Literature’s participation as Guest of Honour, stresses that the campaign is intended to highlight the diversity of Dutch-language literature in a variety of genres, including graphic novels, poetry, children’s and young adult literature and theatre scripts. ‘By collaborating effectively with the Flemish Representation in Berlin, local culture and literature houses as well as German publishers, we will ensure that “alles außer flach” in Leipzig does not pass unnoticed.’