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Dieter Schmidt: «For German publishers, Spanish is one of the most important languages»

Dieter Schmidt: «For German publishers, Spanish is one of the most important languages»

Dieter Schmidt: «The goal is to provide easier access to different literary voices from within and outside European borders».

A few days before the start of FILBo 2023, we spoke with Dieter Schmidt, director of international projects at the Frankfurt Book Fair about the influence of the European book market and the synergies generated.

What are the main activities of the German book sector in Latin America?

From the Frankfurt Book Fair we participate with collective German stands every year in the fairs of Buenos Aires and Guadalajara and more irregularly in the fairs of Bogota, Sao Paulo, Havana, or Bolivia. We were also in Paraty, at the Festa Literária Internacional and sometimes we organize online literary talks. We organize these activities with the support of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the German Ministry of Economics.

With the stands, we show the whole complexity of the book sector: publishers, suppliers, libraries, and literary institutions. We organize a cultural exchange and, of course, the platform for business.

At FILBo we invite the author Antje Rávik Strubel, winner of the German Book Prize in 2021. This activity is organized in cooperation with the Goethe-Institut Buenos Aires.

In Guadalajara, we will also be involved in cultural and professional programming as part of the Guest of Honor ‘European Union’.

In addition, this year we will once again hold the CONTEC meeting in Buenos Aires on April 26th, the second day of professionals discussing two topics: in the morning the topic ‘Sustainability’ and in the afternoon the topic ‘Audiobook’.

Also in Mexico City, the CONTEC event will be held on July 5 and 6 at the Centro Cultural de España. Apart from the topic ‘Sustainability’, we will also focus on the topic of ‘Translation’ with the help of the Ametli Translators’ Association. On the second day, the Latin Audiobook Forum will take place in cooperation with Audiobuk and ProChile.

What is the status of these activities after the pandemic?

During the pandemic, some online events were promoted to make up for the presence at the fairs, which did not take place in person. But already in November 2021, we were back with German books in Guadalajara and in April 2022 in Buenos Aires.

As for CONTEC, this event was held in person in Mexico City in February 2020 just before the pandemic was announced and we returned – with a physical meeting – in November 2021.

Is there a strong synergy between German and Spanish literature?

As you know, Spain was the guest of honor at Frankfurt 2022, the major objective being the internationalization of the literature of the country in question.

For this reason, the project lasts several years and has translation support programs, which in the case of Spain focused on a program of the Ministry of Culture and another of Acción Cultural Española. Between 2019-2022 some 450 titles were translated into German translated from Spanish or other state languages. These are mostly narrative, but there are also works of poetry, Children’s and Young Adult Literature (LIJ), graphic novels, and non-fiction.

There are also many translations from German into Spanish. For German publishers, Spanish is one of the most important languages.

What is the next ambitious project you are working on?

The main objective is still the Frankfurt Book Fair. As far as Spain is concerned, it would be ideal to give good continuity to the 2022 presence. On the other hand, I will continue to strive for a worthy Latin American presence at the October fair.

At the Buenos Aires Book Fair, you will have a joint stand with Georgian and Ukrainian publishers. Why did you decide to invite European colleagues to participate in the stand?

The basis of the invitation to European colleagues is located in a group called ENLIT (European Network for Literary Translation). It is a European Network for Literary Translation, which is dedicated to the promotion of translations. This network was launched in October 2016 at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The network is continuously working on the development of translation support programs to generate greater interest and visibility for literature, both in the source countries and internationally. The aim is to provide easier access to different literary voices from within and beyond European borders. The institutions joining the network agree to share information, establish collaborative projects, invest in research, conduct surveys and process their data, and show a commitment to the production and distribution of literary translations. These are all essential conditions for the dynamic promotion of literature. Colleagues from Georgia are participating, but the one from Ukraine is not able to come. In 2022, colleagues from Latvia and Estonia have already participated. We continue this form of cooperation in Buenos Aires and also at other international book fairs.

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