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A joint Baltic state presentation at the London book fair

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At the London Book Fair being held on April 12th-14th, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia tried out a three-country presentation model that they plan to use in 2018 when they present their literature as guest countries in London.

Lithuania’s presentation at the fair was being coordinated by the Lithuanian Culture Institute together with Rita Valiukonytė, Lithuania’s cultural attaché in the United Kingdom.

According to Lithuanian Cultural Institute director Aušrinė Žilinskienė, translations occupy only 4 percent of the publishing market in the United Kingdom. “We’re making a great effort to make our literature a part of this context. The Lithuanian Culture Institute’s Visiting Expert program has introduced numerous British publishing delegations to the work of Lithuanian authors, translators and publishers. We hope that the three Baltic countries’ united efforts will be even more effective,” said Žilinskienė.

Lithuanian vice-minister of culture Arnas Neverauskas, Estonian ambassador to the UK Lauri Bambus, and Latvian minister of culture Dace Melbārde also participated in events at the London Book Fair.

At the joint Baltic stand, Lithuania presented publishing professionals at the fair with Lithuanian authors’ newest books (fiction, poetry publications, children’s books, the humanities, leisurely reading, book art collections, etc.).

On April 12th, writers from the Baltic states participated in a seminar called Crossroads are Everywhere. Migration, the survival of small countries in the XXI century, and how to maintain the love for one’s culture and language without turning to aggressive nationalism were some of the topics discussed by Tallinn and Helsinki university professor Rein Raud, Latvian political scientist and publicist Ivars Ijabs, and Lithuanian writer Paulina Pukytė. The event was moderated by British writer, editor and translator Daniel Hahn (currently nominated for the international Booker award for his translation of a book by Angolan author Jose Eduardo Agualusa).

Poets from the Baltic states also met in London. Ilzė Butkutė (Lithuania), Inga Gaile (Latvia) and Asko Künnap (Estonia) read English-language translations of their work at an event called New Voices from the Baltics: poetry from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. The poetry readings were moderated by British publisher, editor and poet Jane Commane.

From April 27th, Ilzė Butkutė’s poetry will also be heard at the London British Library and other spaces in the United Kingdom: the Lithuanian poet’s poem Lopšinė Rachelei was chosen for the European Literature Festival’s Poetry Periscope project. Recordings of the poem, read by the poet in both English and Lithuanian, will be played in an installation at the British Library. On May 10th, Paulina Pukytė will participate in another event at this literary festival together with Latvian writer Māra Zālīte and Estonian author Ilmar Taska.

The London Book Fair, in its 45th year, attracts professionals from around the globe involved in book, media, video and audio production, copyrights, product distribution, and other fields related to this industry. This significant networking and negotiating space is distinguished by its strong seminar, conference and discussion program. Every year, the fair receives more than 25,000 visitors from 120 countries.