German publishers and journalists awaken to Slovenia's literature and diversity
By Renata Zamida
As part of the preparatory activities prior to the project "Slovenia – Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair", planned for 2021, the Public Slovenian Book Agency hosted a second three-day study visit for German publishers and journalists, after the first one in September of 2015, this time between 9 and 11 June 2016. The eight distinguished guests were highly impressed by the visit, which predicts a rising interest in Slovenia and its literary endeavours.
The trips, organized by the Book Agency, Slovenia's national body for book promotion, are planned as a butique experiences, and want to bring forward the diversity of this small (of size) country, both in the sense of landscape and culture.
The journey began on with a visit to the annual national publishers' meeting organized by the Slovenian Publishers Association. Dr. Petra Hardt, a renowned copyright and translation rights specialist with over twenty years of experience in the field and representative of Suhrkamp Verlag held a lecture with the title "Copyright and Translation Rights - A Marvel Neglected by too Many Publishers". Dr. Hardt's speech was followed by a round table discussion revolving around the recent challenges faced by German publishers. The host Renata Zamida had the opportunity to engage in conversation with Thorsten Ahrend (Wallstein), Alexander Roesler (S. Fischer), Kristine Kress (Ullstein) and Maike Nedo (Berlin Verlag). During the afternoon, the guests visited the Bled islet, the venue of a literary event with Mojca Kumerdej, and were also welcomed acclaimed historian and 16th-century expert Dr. Sašo Jerše. The evening session featured a conversation with world-renowned philosopher Dr. Slavoj Žižek.
On Friday, 10 June, the guests embarked on a guided literary tour of Ljubljana and met with writer Jani Virk. During the afternoon, they attended a tour of the Manuscript Department of the National and University Library (NUK), where they were acquainted with the works of Alma Karlin and the original edition of Jurij Dalmatin's Bible. The group was also joined by writer and poet Milan Dekleva (who dedicated a novel to the great Alma M. Karlin) and editor, publicist and translator Jerneja Jezernik, a prolific and devoted researchers of the spiritual, literary and material heritage of the renowned world-traveller and internationally-acclaimed writer Alma M. Karlin.
On Saturday, 11 June, the guests visited acclaimed historian Jože Pirjevec at his residence in Trieste, after which they joined writer Marko Sošič at the famous San Marco Café and Bookstore in Trieste - a venue near and dear to stellar author Claudio Magris. The journey to Trieste ended with a visit of the city's Slovene book central, where our guests had the opportunity to acquaint themselves with Italian translations of works by Slovenian authors. The three-day visit concluded with a tasting of six assorted Slovenian wines (since Slovenia is also a prominent wine destination) in Ljubljana, where our guests were treated to a literary introduction to six Slovenian poetry greats: Srečko Kosovel, Lili Novy, Dane Zajc, Edvard Kocbek, Tomaž Šalamun (all deceased) and Stanka Hrastelj.
Impressions by some of our eminent guests:
Dr. Petra Hardt, Suhrkamp Publishing House
Throughout the past 36 years, I attended numerous study visits for publishers and I can honestly say that the visit to Slovenia was the best. It represented a harmonious fusion of literature, philosophy, authors, publishers, the land, people, history, the contemporary book market, archives and extraordinary hospitality. In the end, all participants exclaimed in unison that we would never forget this journey. With its historic and multilingual space, Slovenia spreads topics and views that are key to other cultures and language spaces throughout Europe as well. Therefore, the Suhrkamp publishing house intends to persistently speak in favour of and broadly support the idea of a focus on Slovenian literature at the Frankfurt Book Fair that should come to fruition until 2021 at the latest.
Dr. Alexander Roesler, S.Fischer Publishing House
The multitude of impressions is astounding. We were able to meet so many authors and become acquainted with a plethora of works. We participated in so many discussions and were privy to obtaining so many information about Slovenia that it will most definitely conquer a very special place (in my mind and in my heart). I returned home with volumes of ideas and I firmly believe that some of the projects discussed will be realized. And when the time comes for Slovenia to grace the stage as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, I am convinced that you will succeed in exciting the entire literary world. I can't imagine anything different.
Kristine Kress, Ullstein Publishing House
The visit most definitely conveyed a comprehensive impression about the diversity and richness of Slovenia and even throughout these few days, which very much too short, it became clear too all of us that there are so many more literary voices and stories of Slovenia that we still have to explore. And what I had seen spurs a desire in me to delve into this cultural diversity even more deeply. Furthermore, it was marvellous that we were able to visit so many places, see so many landscapes and meet such different and inspiring personalities. In my opinion, the composition of our group was excellent. It included just the right amount of people and joined publishers and journalists, which was a rare occasion for us, but a welcome one with regard to our respective professions.