The Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2014 presents itself with humour and Finnish coolness – far more than 100 titles appear in the German language.
Frankfurt, 10 October 2013. Finnland. Cool. is the motto of Finland, the Guest of Honour at the coming Frankfurt Book Fair (8 -12 October 2014). Roman Schatz is the creator of the concise slogan. The Finn by choice who is living and working as a writer and journalist in Helsinki since 26 years uses it to put the thinking and action of Finns in a nutshell: “Finland has not reached its present stature because of military power or economic strength but rather because of its culture, where reading and education play the main roles. The coolest thing about Finland are the stories that we will tell in the coming year”.
With its appearance as the Guest of Honour, Finland expects a major breakthrough for Finnish literature and culture. The primary target is to place Finnish literature permanently on the book markets of the world, together with a significant increase in the sales of foreign rights. FILI (Finnish Literature Exchange) is responsible for the practical implementation of the ambitious project. As Iris Schwanck, the director of FILI and the project Finnland. Cool. 2014, says, reading was and is a key factor in the history of Finland. The entire appearance accordingly concerns itself – both visually and in terms of content – with lan•guage, words and their significance, with letters and ideas. “Our history consists of words. Literature, reading and learning are at the centre. We play with this versatility and use new ways to highlight literature – and also in unexpected contexts”, according to Iris Schwanck.
Students of different faculties of Aalto-University designed the logo for the appearance of the Guest of Honour as well as they give proof of their creativity by designing the exhibition presented by the Guest of Honour in the Forum. The success story of the Finnish education system will be in the foreground as far as content is concerned. “Finns love reading and we are world champions in using libraries”, explains Paavo Arhinmäki, Finnish Minister for Culture and Sport.
The Guest of Honour has ambitious plans for the coming year: Considerably more than 100 new translations will appear in 2014 in the Ger•man speaking area alone. A numerous number of Finnish authors present their diversity in the context of numerous literary festivals, readings and discussions in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. FILI sees the foundation of a professional translator community as a significant resource. The organisation has been training hundreds of translators for this purpose in various languages since the signature of the contract with the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2009 and organised international visits to publishers.
FILI has already been contributing for years to the translation, printing and also the publication of Finnish literature all over the world. The organisation supports over 200 translations in this way in over 40 languages. “Finnish literature is inventive, stimulating as well as sophisti•cated and we have great trailblazers for the international success of our literature. Tove Jansson for example, whose centenary will be celebrated next year, Arto Paasilinna or Sofi Oksanen as the latest star”, explains Iris Schwanck. Another name that one has to remember for the future is Salla Simukka. The rights for the Snow White thriller trilogy of the newcomer have been sold in more than 30 countries of the world.
Another objective set for the appearance of the Guest of Honour is an extensive network with players from the international publishing scene. Finland would also like to strengthen its reputation in Germany and Europe as a country of culture and a fascinating place for a vacation.
“Everybody thinks of Finland in relation to something else”, says Juergen Boos, Director of the Frankfurt Book Fair. “The exemplary education system and the extremely low illiteracy rate for example. Or also crime thrillers, tango and sauna. Cool taciturnity as found in Kaurismäki. I for one grew up with the Mumin trolls of the author, Tove Jansson. I did not know for a long time that Tove Jansson is Finnish, but that she writes in Swedish. I am looking forward to Finnish literature and am sure that the Guest of Honour will surprise us all in 2014.”