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Lithuania on display at the Beijing International Book Fair for the first time

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The 23rd Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF), which was held on August 24-28, has been held in China’s capital since 1986. This year, the fair occupied 78,600 sq. m. at the International Exhibition Center, where six halls were devoted to Chinese publishers and writers, honorary guest states, digital publishers, libraries, children’s literature, education, foreign publishers, and lifestyle publications. This year, 16 Eastern and Central European states (including Lithuania) shared the title of honorary guest. They received a separate 1,200 sq. m. pavilion.

Growing interest from foreign publishers attracted 30 of the world’s 50 largest publishers to Beijing this year. Publishing groups like Elsevier and Springer, Sterling, Barnes & Noble, and Quatro Group all had displays at the fair. 86 foreign countries and regions in total presented at the book fair. During the fair, there was also an International Publishers’ Forum, a Best Book award ceremony, several seminars (on the global potential for children’s book publishing and academic publications and information services in the age of the internet), an international authors’ rights fair, a 10+10 publishers’ round table, excursions for librarians and new fair participants from abroad, and literary salons.

This year, Lithuania tried out the BIBF for the first time ever. The highlight of the display was the presentation of seven of writer and illustrator Kęstutis Kasparavičius’ books, which had been translated into Chinese by one of China’s largest children’s publishers, Liaoning, on 26 August. The presentation was attended by Republic of Lithuania ambassador to China Ina Marčiulionytė, Lithuanian cultural attaché in China Agnė Biliūnaitė, and the heads of the Liaoning children’s publishing house. After the fair, Kasparavičius travelled to Shenyang, one of the largest cities in Northern China and the home of the Liaoning publishing house. From 31 August to 4 September, he organised creative workshops and met with the young readers of his books in book stores and schools throughout the city. During Kasparavičius’ visit to Beijing, he attended a meeting with business representatives and producers who would like to create an animated movie for children based on Kasparavičius’ illustrated books.

The Lithuanian Publishers Association was responsible for Lithuania’s display at the hall set aside for the Central and Eastern European countries invited to the fair. Aida Dobkevičiūtė, the association’s director, attended the fair. The display placed most of its emphasis on beautiful children’s books by Lithuanian illustrators. Potential Chinese partners and readers were presented with both the books themselves and an English-language catalogue published by the Lithuanian Culture Institute listing the most beautiful Lithuanian illustrated books published during the past year. Passers-by were attracted by an illustration gallery prepared by the Lithuanian Culture Institute. The display also allowed visitors to get to know the Lithuanian publishing industry and its most important publishers and flip through children’s books and informative books about Lithuania. Through the initiative of the Lithuanian Culture Institute and Lithuania’s cultural attaché in China, special Chinese-language booklets were prepared for the fair that presented the Lithuanian literary translation program and four Lithuanian authors: Vytautas V. Landsbergis (whose book, Arklio Dominyko Meilė, will be published in Chinese by the Liaoning publishing house in the spring of 2017), Kęstutis Kasparavičius, poet and playwright Mindaugas Nastaravičius, and fiction writer Undinė Rdzevičiūtė (the last two writers participated in events at this year’s Bookworm international literature festival in Beijing and Chengdu).

Lithuania also had a separate display in the lifestyles literature pavilion as well. This pavilion was organised for the first time this year by Diplomatic Gastronomy Conference organiser Eduard Cointreau together with the BIBF. At the 21st Diplomatic Gastronomy Conference, which was held in May, Nida Degutienė received an award for her book Izraelio Skoniai. Last year, the VMG magazine by Virtuvės Mitų Griovėjai received an award at this event as well. In a separate display, Lithuania will present the 34 most beautiful culinary books published by publishers like Smaguris, Beatos Virtuvė, VMG, Akademinė Leidykla, Alma Littera, Terra Publica, Aukso Žuvys and Right Thing. Lithuanian food product producers were also presented alongside the Lithuanian culinary books.

Lithuania’s presentation at the Beijing International Book Fair was organised by the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania in China, the Lithuanian Culture Institute, and the Lithuanian Publishers association with partial financing from the Lithuanian Council for Culture.