Iceland will be the honorary guest at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2011, the largest book fair in the word, and thus the first Nordic nation to be granted that honor. Finland also applied for the honorary position that Iceland was granted in the 2011 book fair.
“It is always exciting to win, especially over Finland. The coverage in the Finnish papers underlines how important this is,” Iceland’s Minister of Education Thorgerdur Katrín Gunnarsdóttir told Morgunbladid.
Finnish daily Helsingin Salomat yesterday expressed the nation’s disappointment in losing this great opportunity to export Finnish culture.
“This is a huge challenge for us,” Gunnarsdóttir said. “This will be the most extensive project [in cultural promotion] that we have ever been involved in.”
Gunnarsdóttir said there are many reasons behind the book fair’s choice. “First and foremost it is our basis as a literary nation. Germans have often expressed good will towards us and we are reaping the benefits from that now.”
To take the best possible advantage of this opportunity, extensive translation of Icelandic literature will be undertaken. “The opportunity is involved in promoting our literary heritage further, but also modern literature,” the minister said.
The government decided to nominate Iceland for the honorary guest position at the Frankfurt Book Fair in September 2007. The estimated cost of the project amounts to ISK 300 million (USD 4.6 million, EUR 3.0 million).
The Frankfurt Book Fair was first held in the 15th century and Icelanders have been in attendance for decades. At the last book fair, representatives from 108 countries participated, 400,000 new books were presented and 280,000 people visited the fair.