10 international stars at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Deutsche Welle
7 Min Read

The largest book fair in the world may take place in Frankfurt. But some of its most important guests don’t come from Germany. Here are some of international celebrities you’ll spot at the Frankfurt Book Fair this week.David Hockney

He especially likes to paint things that gleam: glasses, porcelain and swimming pools. As of recently, he likes to paint on his iPad while lying in bed with a cup of tea in the morning. The color palette in the Brush program is so much more extensive and easier to handle then old-fashioned tubes of paint, he says.

Hockney explained his new found hobby during a press conference at the book fair, where he presented his new publication, entitled “A Bigger Book.”

Can Dündar

No sooner had Dünbar, the editor-in-chief of “Cumhurriyet,” posted his appeal for freedom of speech and press in Turkey on change.org, that he was spotted at the Frankfurt Book Fair. A large crowd had gathered at the stand of German newspaper “Die Zeit,” where he was being interviewed by Christoph Amend.

Dünbar was presenting his latest book, “Lebenslang für die Wahrheit – Aufzeichnungen as dem Gefängnis” (Life sentence for the truth – notes from prison), which has been published by Hoffmann und Campe. Dünbar spent three months behind bars before he was sentenced to another six years in prison for alleged espionage and treason. The sentence has not yet been made legally binding, but Dünbar’s resistance is unwavering.

Elif Shafak

The author of the novel “The Bastard of Istanbul” and “The Forty Rules of Love” also comes from Turkey, although she spends more time in London than in Istanbul and prefers to speak English rather than Turkish, according to media reports. In Frankfurt, she was involved in discussions on Europe and Islam and read from her latest book available in German, “Der Geruch des Paradieses” (The scent of paradise). It is also about Turkey – a deeply divided country caught between western secular democracy and eastern Islamic culture.

Boualem Sansal

The Algerian author, who won the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade in 2011, discussed Europe and Islam with Elif Shafak – but in a considerably more pessimistic tone. His “plea for truth,” that Islam is increasingly suppressing democratic values, is reflected in his latest work. “2084: The End of the World,” which will be released in English in January 2017. It has already stirred up controversy in France. He presents a vision of the future in which a totalitarian regime, controlled by religious principles and promises, rules over humanity.

Timothy Garton Ash

Jürgen Boos, director of the Frankfurt Book Fair, quoted him at the opening press conference. Europe has been the main focus of the British historian and author, and in times of rising nationalism, his opinions are in demand. At this year’s book fair, he is a guest on numerous panels – and at the stand of his German publisher, Hanser Berlin, as well. “We have to develop a thicker skin,” wrote Timothy Garton Ash in his latest book, “Free Speech: Ten Principles for a Connected World.”

Ian Kershaw

Yet another British historian is making a number of important appearances at the book fair. After his two-volume Hitler biography, Ian Kershaw – a master at making history understandable – has tackled 20th-century Europe in his latest work, “To Hell and Back: Europe 1914-1949.” At the book fair, he will be addressing the question of whether European idealism is coming to an end and which possibilities Europe has when it comes to living together in peace.

Leon de Winter

The guests of honor Flanders and the Netherlands have brought a group of authors that span the age gamut. During the opening celebration, Arnon Grünberg and Charlotte Van den Broeck delivered a brilliant performance of a two-part dialogue in German titled “Ohne Nabel” (Without navel). Leon de Winter doesn’t need a performance to be successful in German. At the fair, he is presenting his latest novel “Geronimo,” which was published in German by Diogenes. In the book, he provocatively weaves a wild story around Osama bin Laden, portraying him as a person rather than as a terrorist.

Fiona Kidman

She may not be well known in Germany, but in her home country of New Zealand and in the Commonwealth, Fiona Kidman has been showered with prizes, including being appointed as Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In her latest work, “All Day at the Movies,” the 76-year-old former journalist weaves the story of a family into the ups and downs of New Zealand’s recent history.

John Burnside

The Scottish author’s latest book was discussed on German television – on the literature show “Das literarische Quartett” – prior to the book fair. That is usually a guarantee that the book will be a hit in Germany. In his 2006 bestseller “A Lie about my Father,” Burnside wrote about his childhood with a violent, alcoholic father. Now his memoir “Waking Up in Toytown,” published in English in 2011, has just been made available in German. He recalled the 1980s when he was, as he says, “really crazy” – that is, schizophrenic. The book describes his long and painful path to normalcy.

Donna Leon

Before she continues her book tour in Germany, the American author is presenting her 25th Commissario Guido Brunetti novel at the Frankfurt Book Fair. As always, the detective investigates in Venice, where Leon lived for many years. Now 74, the author said she plans to retire from writing. The latest Brunetti mystery is appropriately titled “The Waters of Eternal Youth.”

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