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Presentation of Slovenian Authors in Leipzig a Success!

The Leipzig Book Fair, the second largest fair of such kind in Germany, closed its doors on 26 March 2017 after an intense four days of numerous activities. While the leading Frankfurt Book Fair is predominantly focused on publishers, the Leipzig fest focuses on the readers – particularly with the reader-oriented festival “Leipzig liest”.


The booth of Slovenian Book Agency (JAK).

A discussion with writer Suzana Tratnik.

A discussion with war correspondent and political analyst Boštjan Videmšek.

A discussion with prominant historian Jože Pirjevec.

A discussion with writer Dino Bauk.

This year, Leipzig played host to 2.439 participants from 43 different countries. Various fair-related events throughout the city were visited by over 285.000 book enthusiasts. This year’s “Guest of honour” was the Baltic country Lithuania, which seized its opportunity for a strong and diverse promotion of its literature and culture. The fair featured 26 newly translated editions of Lithuanian literature, while usually only an average of two original Lithuanian books are translated into the German per year.

The Slovenian Book Agency (JAK) was, of course, also among the participants. Its booth featured the freshest works by the most acclaimed Slovenian authors and a number of German translations of original Slovenian works. As every year, the selection of featured authors was conducted in co-operation with Slovenian publishers. However, the JAK booth was not the only highly frequented spot. The accompanying events, which it had organized together the literary network TRADUKI and publishers KLAK, Hollitzer, Milena, Kunstmann, AvivA, and Drava were attended by many people.

Author Suzana Tratnik spoke to Maike Nedo about her novel Tombola ali življenje (Bingo or Life; MK, 2017), from which students from two local grammar school read selected excerpts. Suzana Tratnik also discussed her novel and the topic ‘identity’ as a participant in a themed discussion together with Albanian writer Elvira Dones. Author Dino Bauk, who spoke to Doris Akrap, esteemed journalist and contributor to the German newspaper Tageszeitung at the tazstudio, also attracted quite a lot of attention. The problem of the “erased”, which he treats in his début novel Konec. Znova (The End. Again), translated into German as Ende. Abermals (Hollitzer Verlag, 2017) and mostly unknown to the German audience attracted a sizeable crowd. The same can be written about the discussion about refugees, about whom the acclaimed Slovenian war correspondent, political analyst, and long-time contributor to the newspaper Delo Boštjan Videmšek writes in his haunting book Na begu (On the Run), translated into German as Auf der Flucht (KLAK Verlag, 2016).

A biography about Tito entitled Tito in Tovariši (Tito and His Commrades) by Jože Pirjevec that was published in German in 2016 by the Verlag Antje Kunstmann publishing house under the title Tito. Die Biografie, already received heaps of attention during the launch of the German-language edition. During a conversation with Norbert Mappes-Niediek (correspondent for Die Zeit and expert on Austria and Southeastern Europe) with the tagline ‘Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Tito But Were Afraid To Ask’, Pirjevec shared a lot of highly interesting trinkets about the late Yugoslav leader with a capacity crowd. Another literary evening was organized by the Drava publishing house, which published the German translation of Andrej Skubic’s novel Lahko (Easy) under the title Ruhe late last year. The event, titled Balkan To Go, was hosted by German journalist and film and book scholar Ernst Garndits. In autumn, another German translation of Skubic’s work, this time his novella Igre brez meja (Games beyond Borders), is scheduled to be published by Voland & Quist.

The entire string of literary events was accompanied by the comic art/graphic novel exhibition titled Alma M. Karlin –  Svetovljanka iz province (A Provincial Cosmopolitan Woman) (art: Jakob Klemenčič, story: Marijan Pušavec). The author’s and globetrotter’s life story was told by Marjan Pušavec, who discussed the groundbreaking exploits of the legendary Slovenian female personality in a conversation with publisher Britta Jürgs (AvivA Verlag) and moderatoress Amalija Maček. Alma Karlin has evolved into a highly intriguing figure for German publishers as two additional German translations of works about her life, namely her autobiographical story Sama: iz otroštva in mladosti (Alone: My Childhood and Youth), scheduled to be published by the AvivA publishing house; and the novel Telo iz črk (Roman o Almi) (Body Made of Words: A Novel about Alma) by Milan Dekleva, scheduled to be published by the Austrian Drava Verlag; are about to be unveiled to the world in the very near future.

The next comprehensive presentation of Slovenian literature is scheduled to take place in Vienna at the BuchWien literature fair between 8 and 12  November 2017.