Contracts have been made on the publishing of around 100 works of literature in Germany in the next 12 months that will be translated from Icelandic or feature Iceland. The first press conference in relation to Iceland being the guest of honor at the 2011 Frankfurt Book Fair was held on Thursday.
Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
According to Morgunbladid, the atmosphere was relaxed at the press conference. Towards the end the authors Steinunn Sigurdardóttir and Sjón stole the show. Sigurdardóttir recited a poem in both Icelandic and German and then Sjón said he knew what spectators were wondering:
“You’re wondering whether it is possible that an Icelandic press conference ends without any of the distinguished speakers mentioning fish,” he said, then moving on to a story of a rare fish causing pregnancy and explaining the roots of Icelanders being a literary nation.
Jürgen Boos who directs the Frankfurt Book Fair said the fact that the tombstone of Argentinean author Jorges Luis Borges quotes the Icelandic Sagas shows that the book has no borders.
His epitaph weaves together Argentinean and Icelandic literature, which is fitting since Argentina is the honorary guest at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year.
This connection will be in the foreground when Argentina formally passes the torch to Iceland on Sunday; author Gudbergur Bergsson will accept it on behalf of Iceland.
The Frankfurt Book Fair is the largest book fair in Germany and among the most important in the world. More than 7,300 stands will be at the fair, 3,300 thereof from Germany.
Approximately 30,000 visitors from 100 different countries will attend the fair this year and more than 10,000 journalists are registered to participate.
In regard to Icelandic literature, authors whose books have never been translated before are among those that will be published in Germany, along with classic works of literature, poetry and two large literature collections. The Icelandic Sagas will be published in a new comprehensive translation by the publishing house S. Fischer.
The marketing office Sagenhaftes Island (Fabulous Iceland) will promote Icelandic literature through a number of events next year in cooperation with literature centers, the Goethe Foundation, publishing houses, bookstores, libraries and literature festivals all around Germany.
Icelandic contemporary art will be highlighted in events held in relation with the book fair. Icelandic medieval manuscripts will be displayed at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt and woven into the symbolic world of Gabríela Fridriksdóttir’s exhibition “Crepusculum”.
An Erró exhibition will also take place, along with a large solo exhibition of the works of Ragnar Kjartansson and an overview exhibition of Icelandic contemporary photography.