‘Finnland.Cool.’ or ‘I never read so many names and words with an umlaut!’ Current student, Nora Henneberg-Sprekeler provides a review of how Finland performed at the Frankfurt Book Fair as the Guest of Honour.
I was at the Frankfurt Book Fair – virtually, at least, thanks to social media. I followed Twitter streams and Facebook pages covering the Frankfurt Book Fair and was delighted to have learned a lot about Finnish publishing this year. Finland was the Guest of Honour 2014 and the coverage presented it as a publishing nation which delivered a highly professional and extremely visionary performance at its stall, which was designed by Art students from Aalto-University, Helsinki.
From the business perspective, too, Finland worked hard and successfully at its aim to communicate Finnish literature to different markets in the world, as Iris Schwanck, head of the Guest of Honour project ‘Finnland.Cool.‘, explains in an article:
‘Usually we have 30 to 40 translations from Finnish or Finland-Swedish to German per year. 130 new publications from Finland in German exceeds all our expectations, and we have hereby taken a further step to achieve our principle aim of making Finnish literature more well-known in the world book markets.’
Ms Schwanck added that not only is Germany now convinced by the Finnish, but that there are also 34 new releases for the Anglo-American market in the pipeline. These sounded like great numbers to me.
I found that about 40 publishers represented Finland at the forum, and all were positive about the promising conversations and contract negotiations with international publishing houses. On top of the successful negotiations, visitors from all over the world visited the pavilion and listened to the literary events and readings that were held by the 60 Finnish authors present.
At the ‘Education Hot Spot’ on Thursday, Finland also contributed successfully. The keynote speech was given by the education expert, Pasi Sahlberg, who sees the key factor to the success of the Finnish education system as being good cooperation between the publishers of educational material and the educational authorities, as well as the extremely high literacy rate and first-rate educational materials.
The last day of the fair saw an emotional Finnish team and its representative Kjell Westö handing the „GastRolle“, the symbol of guest-of-honour status, to Dewi Lestari, an Indonesian writer. Now I will definitely watch with curiosity as to how the next Guest of Honour, Indonesia, manages their turn at Frankfurt 2015 and I am looking forward to it!