Back from another wonderful Frankfurt Book Fair and finally settling back into life in the Big D. It was an insane, mind-whirling experience, even better than my first time at the Book Fair last year.
The Book Fair was held October 9-14, I was there October 8-12 and took meetings in 30-minute increments from 9:00am until 5:00pm every day, with any number of parties, dinners, and receptions held in the evenings after the meetings at the city-sized convention center (or, as they call it in German, the Messe) were done.
As a publisher focusing on world literature in translation, attending the Frankfurt Book Fair is the one absolute book event I have to attend every year. Wednesday through Friday, the Messe is a business fair, everybody there pretty much works in publishing in some facet (the Tuesday before is an unofficial business day, all the hotshots gather to meet and drink at the Frankfurter Hof hotel in the center of the city). And everybody who plays any role in the international book trade from every corner of the globe is there. I spent all my time in the international halls: 3 & 4 (home to the German publishers–this is the world’s biggest book fair, and Germany is a country of readers, and the Messe is open to the public on Saturday & Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people come, it’s truly amazing to behold), 5 & 6 (most of the non-English & German speaking world, including the French occupying most of Hall 6), and a bit of time in hall 8 (the Americans, UK, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Israel), which is where Deep Vellum’s booth was!
Deep Vellum was part the Book Fair for the first time this year, last year I attended representing Open Letter Books. This year, Deep Vellum was included as part of the CLMP (Council of Literary Magazines & Presses) booth–and in case you don’t know what CLMP is, they are an amazing organization that exists to provide support and resources to independent publishers all across America, from the tiniest upstart publisher of poetry chapbooks in their bedroom to established world-renowned publishers like Open Letter, Bellevue Press, Akashic Books, and Graywolf Press. This was CLMP’s second year hosting a booth for some of its publishers, most of whom had never attended Frankfurt before CLMP offered them booth space with a group of their peer publishers; Deep Vellum would not have been able to have a booth without CLMP’s assistance, and it is a measure of legitimacy to be included in the official Book Fair publication material and to be able to see your name on a booth in Frankfurt, especially with a group of my most respected friends and fellow indie publishers.And the reason it’s so important to go is that’s where you find out what is coming out that is awesome from foreign publishers and international literary agents (some of whom work with clients from dozens of languages!), and you make connections with the folks from foreign cultural organizations who support the publication of literature from their language group into English with translation grants and publication assistance. It’s the most inspiring thing to walk around these halls, meet with the best and brightest minds from all over the world, from Hungary to Taiwan, from Italy to the Faroe Islands and beyond!
Every year at Frankfurt there is a Guest of Honor, last year was New Zealand, this year was Brazil. So the host country throws a ton of themed parties and puts an inordinate amount of resources into bringing their nation’s authors to the Fair to meet the world, quite literally. I didn’t meet any Brazilian authors, but I met some Brazilian agents and have two books in mind I’d like to publish from there in the next list or two of Deep Vellum titles (so keep your fingers crossed).
Now that I’m back in Dallas, I’m excited to attend the Texas Book Festival in Austin this weekend. There I will mostly be scouting the festival to figure out how to get Deep Vellum involved next year, in my dreams I’d like Carmen Boullosa to speak in conjunction with the publication of Texas, I’d like a panel about the new translations by Deep Vellum’s Texas-based translators Marian Schwartz (Mikhail Shishkin’s Calligraphy Lesson: The Collected Stories as well as her translation of Anna Karenina forthcoming from Yale University Press!) and George Henson (Sergio Pitol’s The Art of Flight), and I’d like Deep Vellum to have a tent or a booth, maybe in conjunction with another Texas indie publisher who does some world lit (I’m thinking of you, Cinco Puntos Press and Host Publications!).
In addition to scouting things out and generally enjoying being back in Austin (where I lived 2009-2010), I will also be introducing and leading the q&a discussion for the esteemed Roy Flukinger, the Senior Research Curator at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin (the Ransom Center is one of the greatest treasures in this fine state). Roy has a beautiful new book out, Arnold Newman: At Work about the legendary photographer Arnold Newman. The discussion is 3:30-4:30pm on Sunday in the Contemporary Austin–Jones Center (700 Congress) , feel free to stop by. Immediately before that I’ll be at the Dallas Noir panel discussion with authors from the collection Ben Fountain, Kathleen Kent, and James Hime, as well as editor of the collection, David Hale Smith. Dallas Noir is part of Akashic Books’ insanely awesome world noir series, and comes out 11/5/13. Check it out and, if you live in the area come to some of the Dallas/Fort Worth launch events starting next week!