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The Vilnius Book Fair Programme is Taking Shape: What Foreign Guests Will We Have?

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The 19th International Vilnius Book Fair which will take place on 22-25 February will host not only presentations of newly-published books, discussions and exhibitions, but also meetings with foreign guests what has become a tradition, especially awaited by the public.  With one month to go until the book fair which this year will greet its visitors with the theme „Reading Lithuania – Reading The World“, final touches are being put to the cultural programme and the list of the main guests from abroad is becoming clear. This year, over 30 guests from more than 10 countries are expected at this major literary event.

We Will Celebrate the Centenary in Company

As Lithuania celebrates the 100th anniversary of the restoration of its independence in February, the centenary will also receive a lot of attention at the Vilnius Book Fair. The lined-up events of the fair will not let it be forgotten that we are not celebrating on our own, but surrounded by numerous guests coming from countries that have recently marked or are preparing to celebrate their own independence centenaries.

On that occasion, the Lithuanian Culture Institute will invite the visitors of the book fair to a series of discussions under the title “Our Centenary” where well-known Lithuanian writers will talk to their colleagues from abroad: Nora Ikstena from Latvia, Marián Milčák ifrom Slovakia, Jan Hajek from the Czech Republic, Ilmar Taska from Estonia and  Jerzy Illg from Poland.

Publishing house „Homo Liber“ will be hosting the Finnish writer Selja Ahava. This writer, who received the European Union Prize for Literature in 2016, will present her book “Things that Fall from the Sky”, which was translated into Lithuanian. The famous Estonian director, screen writer and producer Ilmar Taska who found fame with his debut novel „Pobeda 1946“, recently also published in Lithuanian, will also visit the book fair. His novel realistically recreates the oppressive atmosphere of fear and distrust in the postwar Tallin, when Estonia was separated from the free world by the iron curtain. The novel depicts the events that have long remained not spoken about in literature, such as the fact that after the war Soviet security forces used to get information out of children about their parents, and what it led to.

The Polish Cultural Institute ensured that the visitors of the Vilnius Book Fair will have an opportunity to meet not only Jerzy Illg, but also other renowned intellectuals from the neighbouring country – Michał Rusinek and Wiesław Myśliwski. Invited by the publishing house „Vaga“, a legend of Polish cinema, the familiar to the Lithuanian public film director Krzysztof Zanussi will also be visiting the fair.

The programme of discussions will include the British journalist Rosie Goldsmith, who has been working in various countries of the world with such broadcasters as the BBC for over 20 years, and constantly actively participates in the European cultural life. She will have a special mission during the book fair – to talk to Lithuanian authors who will be presented at the London Book Fair in April this year, part of the special programme dedicated to the Baltic countries. In their turn, the organisers of the London Book Fair have prepared for Lithuanian readers a meeting with the esteemed British author Evie Wyld, whose novel “All the Birds Singing”, published in Lithuanian in 2017, won the European Union Prize for Literature in 2014.

Favourite Authors and New Names

There will be no lack of faces that have already become true symbols of the Vilnius Book Fair and without which the fair is almost difficult to imagine. Tomas Venclova, Antanas Šileika, and Kristina Sabaliauskaitė will pay their visits to the fair.

The Lithuanian Writers’ Union Publishers, which pays a tribute to Lithuanian authors at every edition of the Vilnius Book Fair, has this year invited the Swedish journalist and writer Lena Andersson. Her novel “Wilful Disregard: A Novel About Love”, translated into Lithuanian in 2016, was awarded an August Prize. She will present her new book „Without Personal Responsibility”.

Publishing house „Tyto Alba“ has invited the famous politician, former Premier of Belgium, the Member of the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt who will present his book „Europe’s Last Chance”.

A lot of focus of the fair will be on the European Literature Prize for Literature. The prize awarded by the European Writers’ Council, the Federation of European Publishers and the European Commission has already been received by three Lithuanian female authors. This year, presented at the fair will be the special 9th edition dedicated to the winners from the Baltic states. This occasion will bring to Vilnius the Swedish writer Sara Mannheimer. The author grew up in Geteborg and currently lives in Stokholme and apart from writing runs an art glass studio. Her debut novel „Reglerna“ (published in Lithuanian by „Taisyklės“ in 2008) was nominated for an August Prize, and her second novel “The Action” won the European Union Prize for Literature in 2012. In 2015, this novel was translated by Alma Braškytė and published in Lithuania by „Tyto Alba“.

From Spain to Oman

This year, part of the guests to the fair will come from countries whose literature and its translations are not widely familiar to the Lithuanian public. The Lithuanian Association of Literary Translators’ efforts secured an opportunity for Lithuanian readers to meet the Iranian poet and translator Ali Abdollahi, while the Sultanat of Oman participating in the fair had invited the poet and academic Hilal al-Hajri to visit Lithuania and to meet the visitors of the book fair.

One of the most important and biggest books and literary events in the world, Frankfurt Book Fair, returns to Vilnius with its booth after four years.  Invited by the Frankfurt Book Fair, a delegation of German guests will pay visit to the Vilnius Book Fair, among them the writer Alexander von Schönburg whose book „World History, To Go“  was published in Lithuanian by the publishing house „Tyto Alba“. This German journalist, former editor of „Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung“, has been a member of the editorial board of „Bild“ since 2009, and is also an author of four bestsellers. In a witty and intellectual way, he is able to present to the reader the world at a yet unseen angle.

Publishing house „Sofoklis“ has invited to fair the contemporary Israeli writer, poet, and essayist Zeruya Shalev. She is considered one of the most outstanding writers of her generation, and has found fame with her book “Love Life” translated into 24 languages. This book will also be presented to Lithuanian readers.

We are also looking forward to hosting guests from Spain. Ignacio del Valle, Antonio Manuel Carrasco and Iván Vélez are the three writers who will participate in this year’s book fair events, presenting Spanish culture and literary scene, and its relationship with Europe.

The 19th International Vilnius Book Fair will take place at the Lithuanian Exhibition and Congress Centre „Litexpo“ on 22-25 February. The fair, returning to all the five halls of the centre, this year will place particular focus on reading, and will receive its visitors at events, meetings, exhibitions and in its favourite spaces – the “Bouquinistes’’ Passage”,  „The Book Cinema“, the art studio „You can create a book”, library spaces, as well as at the Music Hall. The four-day fair is expected to host 400 events.