Books in the Turkish stand in Frankfurt Book Fair
It was midday on Wednesday when the Turkish stand opened at the International Frankfurt Book Fair. The keynote speaker was Hamdi Turşucu, General Manager of Libraries and Publications. After him, Deputy Undersecretary of the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism Nihat Gül and Frankfurt Consul General Ufuk Ekinci spoke.
In their speeches, they mentioned the ministry’s international initiatives, listed the countries Turkey has been a guest of honor in the past and those it will be in the future. In recent years, Turkey has been the guest of honor in Budapest and in Beijing. Next year, it will be at Spain’s Book Fair.
I am expecting two things from those who will visit the Turkish stand in Frankfurt. Our citizens who reside here can see and pick up the books of Turkish writers here and Turkish writers who have come here can also learn the diverse points of views of their readers abroad.
We cannot say that the entirety of Turkish literature is being represented. The indifference of publishers may be the issue here. A wider exhibition is necessary for the expansion of our literature.
In such fairs, the books that have been translated into other languages should be showcased in a special section. This was being done before, but this time I did not come across such a section. Why is this necessary? Because this way, all of the books that have been translated into foreign languages can be seen, rather than just the ones that have been translated by the Translation and Publication Grant Program of Turkey (TEDA).
However, for such an organization, all of the translated books should be sent to the ministry, otherwise it is not possible to follow them one by one and make a full list. There are also books in other languages spoken in Turkey. I hope we will be able to see this diversity in the coming years.
Some publishers complained that when they came here, foreign publishers and writer’s agencies would regard them only as buyers.
I am suggesting that another council be formed other than the TEDA project. In this way, we will be able to see Turkish-language writers more frequently in other languages.
The Culture Ministry should make contracts with a few literary agencies and their duty should be to promote Turkish literature to foreign publishers with relevant files.
Though TEDA ensures that our writers are translated into foreign languages, funds come after an application. In other words, the business deal is done first, then there is a certain contribution. However, I believe in the necessity of providing access to the books that have not applied to reach foreign publishing houses.
Meanwhile, I learned that the president of Finland is writing a new book on the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake/ tsunami. He and his son survived the disaster by climbing a utility pole, so it should be an interesting book.
I also learned that in Finland there are 2.2 million saunas. They have carried this widespread sauna culture to the book fair. Reading sessions are being held in public saunas in Frankfurt. A Finnish author could bust into any sauna he or she chooses and read to the people inside for five to 10 minutes. Whether or not the writer does this naked is up to them.
What's more, a fire truck transformed into a sauna goes around several districts of the city. In the truck, young poets recite their poems and then go into the sauna with their readers to continue their poetry conversation. It sounds quiet interesting.
Indeed, the fair has always been a venue for interesting initiatives and incidents.