In 2013, Frankfurt Will Learn to Samba

Next year, Brazil takes the role of Guest of Honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Here’s what to expect.

A country full of different voices and cultures that interact among themselves and internationally, in a continual renewal —that is the core message that Brazil wants to send out to the publishing world in 2013. The National Library, responsible for the country’s book policies, will focus on Brazil’s dynamic and diverse cosmopolitan literature, how this literature always has — and will continues to — absorb different trends and cultures and reinvent itself.

Brazil is the second country to have been twice invited as Guest of Honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The first time was in 1994, and Brazil could not be a more different country than it was back then. A decade of solid economic growth and social development are starting to have an impact on the country’s artistic production, and with the help of long-term book and reading incentive policies, Brazilian literature is flourishing with a new, vibrant generation of books, authors and publishers.

A recent study from the Pro-book Institute shows that about 50% of the Brazilian population is in the habit of reading. That might not seem like a lot, but when one considers that it represents over 88 million readers, publishers can’t help but be optimistic about the huge market size and great growth potential. Brazilians are also keen on technology-driven reading — a recent study shows that Brazilians are buying five tablets per minute*.

Galeno Amorim, President, Brazilian National Library

Brazil will be represented at the ceremony of the passage of the baton by Brazilian author Milton Hatoum, who will receive it from the New Zealand delegation on October 14th. From then on, it’s all about preparation, with lots of ginga**. The Ministries of Culture and International Relations are in charge of Brazil’s participation in Frankfurt, and the organizing committee is presided over by Galeno Amorim, president of the National Library Foundation (FNB). “One of the main goals is to stimulate and multiply translations of Brazilian books abroad. Of course, we also want to present the opportunities that the Brazilian publishing market has to offer to investors. Brazil’s participation is based on three axes: literary, cultural and economic,” says Amorim. He explains that one of the main challenges will be how to ensure that the opportunity to showcase the country “has a long-term effect, and that does not finish at the Book Fair’s end in 2013.”

Amorim notes that throughout 2013, at least 80 Brazilian authors will visit Germany to hold readings and debates across the country, not only for the Frankfurt Book Fair, but also for fairs in Leipzig, Cologne and Berlin.

In the lead-up to Frankfurt, about 250 Brazilian books are expected to be translated via the FBN’s translation grants. German translators are a very important part of this process. “Historically, France is the country that most benefited from the program, with 40 grants in total,” says Amorim. “But in the last year, Germany stands out. It became the most demanding country, with 25 grants in total.” A new literary magazine, Machado — launched here at Frankfurt — will publish texts by Brazilian authors in English and Spanish, offering an overview of Brazilian contemporary literary production for the international rights market.

One of the highlights of the program in 2013 will be the exhibition at the Cultural Pavillion. A 2,500-square-meter space developed by scenographer Daniela Thomas and architect Felipe Tassara will display a multifaceted and conceptual vision of Brazil.

Now, all the Frankfurters have to do is to start practicing some samba steps for next year, when the Brazilian drums will sound throughout the German city.

*Source: IDC Brazil

** Ginga is an untranslatable Brazilian word that means an elegant, flexible and happy way to adapt and to improvise in order to overcome obstacles — or to win the football World Cup five times.

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