26 Mar 2012
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As this year’s Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair, New Zealand has just enjoyed a first taste of its literary and cultural programme at the Leipzig Book Fair, Germany.
The Leipzig Book Fair (“Leipziger Buchmesse”) is the second largest book fair in Germany after the Frankfurt Book Fair. It is open to the public on all days, and emphasises the relationship between the authors and the readers.
“Leipzig was way ahead of anything we’d expected. New Zealand authors only had to get up on one of the two stages and an audience quickly gathered” says Publishers Association of New Zealand President Kevin Chapman.
The author interview sessions were held in two places. The first, a small stage shared by the Frankfurt Book Fair, a German publisher and the New Zealand contingent. The other, a much larger International Stage, where 30 or 40 people could often be found waiting, “As soon as the talking started, people filled the seats. The German audience is fascinated by New Zealand” says Mr Chapman.
“German publishers were very welcoming too,” said Mr Chapman, who also spoke to the Commissioner of the Iceland Guest of Honour programme. “He told me he’d heard everyone was amazed at how much the New Zealanders had got done, so quickly.’”
German photographer Antonia Steeg, whose work will shortly be published by Te Papa Press, showed a video presentation of photos from the South Island’s high country stations which she named collectively, Living the New Zealand Dream. According to Mr Chapman, this really pulled the crowds and strongly encouraged German tourists to visit New Zealand, “So many Germans dream of living in New Zealand, an un-crowded land of natural beauty. To them, we are exotic!”.
Sopranos Aivale Cole and Madeleine Pierard were stars of the cultural programme along with the New Zealand String Quartet. Pierard sang Kiwi composer Ross Harris’ The Abiding Tides with the quartet, in an exotic rococo Leipzig setting. Sarah Ropata’s work in bringing together authors, topics and the cultural programme was outstanding said Mr Chapman.
The New Zealand contingent – ten authors, six publishers – was sought-after media interview subjects at Leipzig. It is expected plenty of German media will be coming through New Zealand in the next few months.
Mr Chapman said the Leipzig experience was good practise for putting together a cultural programme. He expects, the programme prior to the Frankfurt Book Fair in September and October in German cities Cologne, Berlin and Hamburg, will be hugely expanded.
Abridged from original piece written by PANZ News Editor, Jillian Ewart.
Creative New Zealand, via the Ministry for Culture and Heritage, is proud to support New Zealand at the Frankfurt Book Fair.