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An interview with Canadian Ambassador  Stephane Dion in Berlin on Frankfurt Book Fair

An interview with Canadian Ambassador Stephane Dion in Berlin on Frankfurt Book Fair

Nazmun Nesa Piari from Berlin

Germany is having a difficult time with the second wave of coronavirus. Germany was one of the leading countries which has successfully handled the pandemic. The Infection was almost zero. But during the summer people were going for holiday outside Germany. Restaurants, Caffes, Bars were open. Young people were having night summer parties.

 The situation debtoriated. Now the German Chancellor declared a lock down from 16th December to 10th January. There will be no New Year's parties and Christmas only in close family.

In October the Frankfurt International Book Fair did not take place like the previous years. It took place virtually. The opening ceremony took place with a very limited number of guests and some journalists. I attended it.

 This year Canada was the guest country. Canada's president gave his speech online. Book Fair decided to have Canada as a guest country again next year. The canadian ambassador to Germany  Mr Stephane Dion  was present at the opening ceremony. I had an interview with him. It gives a clear picture of canadian Book culture and its relations with the Frankfurt Book Fair.

Q : What is your Impression of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2020 amid Covid- 19 situation ?

 A : The Special Edition of the Book Fair 2020 was indeed a very different experience. Nevertheless, around 200,000 online users visited the website of the Book Fair and we had the opportunity to present a comprehensive virtual program. I enjoyed the conversation with Juergen Boos, the Director of the Book Fair, for the German public television, but of course, the Fair is all about authors and we have a full year coming up to showcase the plurality of Canadian talent.

:     How does Canada feel about it‘s role as a Guest Country under Special conditions?

 A : Canada’s Guest of Honour virtual presence at the Special Edition of the Frankfurt Book Fair this year was an opportunity to showcase our literary and creative talents on the world stage in a virtual format. In partnership with our publishing industry partner, Canada FBM2020 and the varied programming provided by other Federal, Provincial and Territorial collaborators, Canada presented more than 100 physical and virtual events in the lead up to and during the fair this year. This first of two appearances for Canada at the Frankfurt Book Fair served as a preview of the exciting programming that will be offered in the coming months and at the fair in October 2021.

Q:  What are your plans for 2021?

 A : The announcement of the postponement of Canada’s Guest of Honour in-person presence at the Frankfurt Book Fair was welcomed news and we are very grateful to Spain, Slovenia and Italy for agreeing to this arrangement. This deferment provides Canada an additional year to highlight our literary and creative talents and to strengthen our ties with Germany. Canada is currently examining its plans for 2021 which is likely to include both a virtual and physical program that will take advantage of the trade promotion opportunity that the Frankfurt Book Fair offers our creative industries.

Q :    Europe and Canada: The role of Books in society and culture. similarities and differences?

 A : Canada might be the most European country outside of Europe, so there are a lot of similarities in terms of support and appreciation of cultural talent. But there are also differences, even within Canada, especially between the francophone and the Anglophone market. Some books from Quebec sell better in France than they do in the rest of Canada. A Book Fair is the right place to bring these different aspects together and increase the exchange.

Compared with the publishing histories of many European countries, Canada’s own is young. It was only in the sixteenth century that the first European explorers sailed to North America, only in 1867 that Canada took its modern form as a country, and as recently as the 1960s and 70s that Canada’s cultural industries have decisively taken off. The industry comprises more than 260 English-language publishers and more than 100 French-language publishers. In 2018 it was valued at 1.4 billion euros. It is incredibly dynamic, open to new voices, and increasingly reflects the full diversity and multiculturalism of Canadian society.

Q:  What kind of book fair do you have in Canada?

 A : There are over a hundred literary events across the country, in the form of festivals, fairs or meetings. Some of the more prominent ones include; International Writers Festivals Series in many Canadian cities.   The Word On the Street Series in many Canadian cities.  Salon du livre de Montréal (Montreal book fair).  Toronto International Festival of Authors.  Vancouver Writers Fest.  WordFestCalgary.

 

 

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