User:Gwyndon/articles/OR/Czech Republic introduced as Guest Country of the Leipzig Book Fair 2019

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Ilja Šmíd, Minister of Culture of the Czech Republic, with Wikinews interviewer Wolfgang G. Wettach and his press spokesperson Simona Cigánková

At this year's Leipzig Book Fair in Germany, which just closed its doors on Sunday, March 18, the Czech Republic presented its plans for its tenure as Guest of Honor in 2019, following Romania, which was the Guest of Honor in 2018, when the Book Fair had a focus on southeast Europe, both with the guest countries and the debates and panels under the labels TRADUKI and Europa21.

Mirej Taloş, vice-president of the Institute for Romanian Culture, had introduced this year's Romanian programme with Book Fair chairperson Oliver Zille. Together with the Romania Ministry for Culture and National Identity over 70 events were offered, presenting over 40 new translations of poetry and prose, including the previous winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, Herta Müller.

The TRADUKI events, a part of the Leipzig Book Fair for the tenth time, were focussed on European minorities in southeast Europe, in the fictional Balkans nation of Tradukistan and the real Kosovo of today. Female literature, homosexuality in literature, and the history and stories of Jews, Sinti and Roma in Europe all were highlighted.

Europa21 panel - Who shares European Values?

The Europa21 series of events, sponsored by the Foreign Ministry of Germany, was a part of the Book Fair for the third time and debated European values, ideals and realities, seen from people within the EU who had a family background beyond the European Union, like Rokhaya Diallo (pictured left) or Diana Kinnert (pictured right).

Czech Minister of Culture Ilja Šmíd explained, when presenting the Czech Republic's plans, that they intend to celebrate a full year of Czech culture from autumn 2018 until autumn 2019, promoting books and authors in the Germanophone world. Authors are planned to appear for talks and readings in all of Germany, Austria and Switzerland, accompanied by concerts, exhibitions, film festivals and an opera performance of the Czech national theatre Brünn in Leipzig itself.

One focus will be on presenting authors with a deep impact on current history, like the author Pavel Kohout, who fifty years ago had been a spokesperson of the Prague Spring, or the author and later President Václav Havel, one of the signatories of the civil rights movement Charta 77, which laid the foundation for the later peaceful transition in 1989.

On the presentation of the Czech plans on Thursday, March 16, Culture Minister Ilja Šmíd explained the motto of the 2019 Book Fair programme as follows: "Ahoj Leipzig, our motto as the Guest of Honor at the Leipzig Book Fair, was chosen purposefully: in the Czech Republic like in Germany it suggests a maritime greeting. 'Bohemia at the sea' is an old motive that reaches as far back as Shakespeare's Winter's Tale, pointing to an utopian ideal state. In reality, the Czech Republic is far from the sea, which makes the sea a constant place to long for, a place we would love to go to, with a book in our hand. Instead, we have a Czech 'sea of books' and invite you to come aboard and sail with us through the deep sea of Czech literature!"

The contract to become guest country had been signed by Šmíd's predecessor Daniel Herman two years ago. Šmíd was confident, though, that the current government under president Babiš would last the full four years.

Asked for a personal recommendation, which one book interested readers should pick to prepare for this planned year of Czech culture, Šmíd, who is musicologist by profession, recommended a biography of Czech composer Leoš Janáček, who had died 90 years ago. It would, he explained, be exemplary in introducing to Czech culture and history.


{{Original reporting}}

Category:EuropeCategory:Czech RepublicCategory:GermanyCategory:Leipzig