The Czech Republic is once again presenting itself at the Leipzig Book Fair with the slogan Ahoj! In the picture from April 27, 2023, the head of the Czech Literary Center Martin Krafl (left) and the director of the Moravian State Library in Brno, Tomáš Kubíček.
Leipzig (Germany) – The Czech Republic sails under colorful flags and with the unmistakable slogan Ahoj! The stand, which is based on the one from 2019, when the Czech Republic was a guest country in Leipzig, is unmissable in the exhibition hall and its motifs are well remembered by visitors. And that is exactly what the Czech expedition is betting on, as the head of the Czech Literary Center, Martin Krafl, told ČTK today. The goal of the center, which was established by the Moravian Provincial Library in Brno, is the promotion of Czech literature.
“They won't see big differences,” answered Krafl when asked what changes compared to 2019 a visitor to the Czech stand might notice. “The point is that those who pass by remember us. I dare to say that it will not be a remembrance, but that it will always be a presence,” he said, adding that the Czech Republic actively participated in the literary life in Leipzig even during pandemic.
Hello, which in the German-speaking world is associated with seafaring, is written as ahoi in German. “So the jot (the letter j in German) is provocative in a way,” Krafl said. “And it's the game with the sea and hello that the visitors enjoy,” he said.
“I'm most happy that we're here after three years and that it's working,” said Krafl about what he's most excited about at the festival. Now it is the first time since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic that the fair is being held in Leipzig, Saxony. It was completely canceled in 2020, but the Czech Republic still organized one event then. “We were the only country that held a single event in that fair week,” Krafl recalled. Even in the next two years, the organizers of the fair renounced, but nevertheless, the accompanying festival Leipzig liest (Leipzig reads) or Leipzig liest trotzdem (Leipzig nevertheless reads) took place each time, partially digitally and under strict hygienic conditions. And the Czech Republic was not missing from it.
“It showed the strength of the festival,” said Krafl about the accompanying literary events with author readings and debates that took place despite the pandemic. “I don't think the organizers of the fair would like to hear this, but I think Leipzig is mainly about the festival,” he said.
The Czech stand, which consists of fragments of the original one by architect Martin Hrdina, presents a collection of Czech books translated mainly into German and English. On the shelves, visitors will also find translations by Czech authors into Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish, Korean, Polish, or even Hungarian or Croatian. Current award-winning and critically acclaimed book titles on the Czech market from the New Czech Books yearbook and literature for children and youth are also exhibited here. “Then, in cooperation with the Memorial of National Writing, the titles from the Most Beautiful Czech Books competition are exhibited here,” added Krafl.
Czech Republic is not only presented in Leipzig with a book stand, but also with accompanying events. “There are 16 of them,” Krafl counted. Those interested can meet Czech authors or their translators into German. They can choose from Anna Bolavá, Irena Dousková, Marko Toman, Jan Blažek, Kateřina Tučková, Galina Miklínová, Petr Stančík and Luboš Svoboda. Jaroslav Rudiš, who writes in German, will also be in Leipzig, whom German readers already know well.