As well as being an international trading point and hosting high-profile literary launches, the Frankfurt Book Fair is also home to behind-the-scenes meetings for upcoming initiatives.
Such was the case at the weekend when representatives from Poland’s publishing sector visited the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority stand. The discussions focused on preparations for the country to be the guest of honour at the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair. Poland will occupy a key stand and host a programme of authors and sessions to promote its rich literary tradition.
The Polish Book Institute, based in Kraków, is likely to be the cultural authority to organise activities in Abu Dhabi, having previously set up the stand at the New Delhi World Book Fair when Poland was the guest of honour there last year.
“It is always exciting when something like this happens, and it is a challenge,” says Agnieszka Bóbr, head of the Polish stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair. “You see, generally speaking, when a country becomes guest of honour, it is done for two reasons. The first being more trade-driven, in that we promote books and authors to a readership familiar with the work. The second, as was the case in New Delhi and in Abu Dhabi, it is a cultural initiative which also aims to create tourism and trade links with the country.”
Guest of honour status requires months of preparation. For the New Delhi World Book Fair, Bóbr and her team travelled to the city two months beforehand to get an overview of the literary scene. They held meetings with publishers, local authors and diplomats, after which a tailor-made programme was created for the fair’s audience. If the institute is tasked with the UAE project, Bóbr and her team will fly to the capital in February.
“It is a learning experience for us and we would love to meet local authors in the Emirates and find out more about the literature tradition there,” she says.
“It also makes me proud because Poland has great books and amazing writers, and if we can show that to a new part of the world then all the work will be worth it. If you come to our book stand with curiosity and an open mind you will be rewarded.”
The Abu Dhabi International Book Fair runs from April 25 to May 1 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre. For details, go to www.adbookfair.com