FRANKFURT, 21 Oct 2021:
Organisers of the Frankfurt Book Fair, which opened to the public yesterday, have said they “regret” that some authors have cancelled planned appearances at the literary gathering – over the participation of publishers with ties to the German far-right.
Author Jasmina Kuhnke, who was due to appear in Frankfurt to present her novel Black Heart, has withdrawn – with African-born artists Annabelle Mandeng and Nikeata Thompson also cancelling their visits to Buchmesse, Europe’s largest showcase for the publishing industry, with around 2,000 exhibitors from 80 countries.
In a statement, the organisers said: “Freedom of expression and publishing are paramount for us. They are the basis for engaging in a free exchange in our democracy and for having the Book Fair at all.
“With our own programming and that of our partners, we send clear signals for a diverse society and take a stand in favour of interacting with others in a tolerant, respectful way. In doing so, we clearly distance ourselves from extreme positions.”
The Fair and the German Publishers & Booksellers Association said while they are committed to promoting freedom of speech and freedom of the press worldwide, “it is also clear for us that publishers who operate within the law can exhibit at the book fair, even if we do not share their views.
“In our constitutional democracy, banning publishing houses or their publications is the role of the courts.”
The statement concluded by pointing out the safety and security of the fair and its participants is the organisers’ top priority.
The most prominent case of right-wing publishing houses is Antaios, owned by Götz Kubischeck, founder of the so-called Identitarian Movement, considered to be against the German Constitution.