Authors pull out of Frankfurt Book Fair owing to appearance of right wing publisher

The book fair defended its actions amid the growing controversy

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The Frankfurt Book Fair has been engulfed in a controversy over the appearance of a publisher who some allege is the leader of a German far-right activist group.

A growing number of authors are cancelling planned sessions over the participation of Jungeuropa, which has a stand at the Frankfurt trade fair's grounds.

The company is owned by Philip Stein, a reported leader of One Percent for Our Country, a network of far-right activists and politicians in Germany.

By Friday, several guests had pulled out of the fair, including German actress Annabelle Mandeng, Jamaican choreographer and author Nikeata Thompson, and social media influencer and model Riccardo Simonetti.

Disability rights activist Raul Krauthausen will also be a no-show, having cancelled a scheduled session after an appearance last week.

The book fair and the German Publishers and Booksellers Association released a joint statement, the English version of which can be found here, expressing regret at the cancellations and defending the appearance of Jungeuropa on the grounds of legality and freedom of expression.

"We regret that individual authors have decided not to appear at Frankfurter Buchmesse. Their voices against racism and in support of diversity will be missed at the book fair," the statement reads.

“Frankfurter Buchmesse and the German Publishers and Booksellers Association are committed to promoting freedom of speech and freedom of the press worldwide.

“That is why it is also clear for us that publishers who operate within the law can exhibit at the book fair, even if we do not share their views.”

The growing discord began last Monday, two days prior to the opening of the fair, when German author Jasmina Kuhnke announced her boycott after realising the signing session for her new book, Black Heart, would be held in close proximity to the Jungeuropa stand.

According to a statement by Kuhnke, Stein previously called for her deportation from Germany.

“Therefore, it is foreseeable that, beyond the publishing house and its authors, other right-wing extremists will visit the fair, which to me, personally, poses an unmistakable danger,” she said.

Krauthausen echoed her sentiments in his own statement to AFP, saying: “I can and will not promote my book in an environment where black women and women of colour have to cancel their participation because of the right-wing danger.”

While not directly addressing the security threat cited by Kuhnke, the statement by the book fair made it clear the safety of all participants remains paramount: "The fair is organised based on a comprehensive security plan that makes it possible for everyone to visit the fair safely."

Running until Sunday, the Frankfurt Book Fair is operating under a hybrid model, with sessions streamed online and 1,500 exhibitors from more than 70 countries and 200 authors on site.

Select English sessions can be accessed online from the book fair’s website and YouTube page.

Updated: October 25, 2021, 8:21 AM