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24 March
2015

Krakow and Wrocław at Salon du livre de Paris

And we’ve come to the end of the largest book fair in the French speaking world, Salon du livre. More than 200,000 book lovers visited this year. Krakow and Wrocław, as special guests of honor, presented their literature and heritage at a specially prepared 200 m2 stand. This was the largest such event promoting Polish culture abroad in years. With nearly 40 meetings held, the visitors at the Fair got to meet key authors, poets, journalists, and illustrators. The French chain FNAC organized the bookstore section of the stand and sold numerous copies of Polish literature to the French public. The Polish stand was attended by French President François Hollande, Premier Manuel Valls, Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo, and the Ministers of Culture from Poland and France – Fleur Pellerin i Małgorzata Omilanowska, who in the context of the Fair signed a significant declaration of bilateral cooperation.

Poland’s presence was very highly valued in France, also by other delegations from various couuntries. This is one of the most important events for the book industry. We must continue to systematically work in France, as well as elsewhere, to promote Polish literature and Polish authors, so that they can find a place for themselves, one that they fully deserve on the international stage, and be read, translated and published all over the world, said Grzegorz Gauden, Director of the Polish Book Institute.

The Book Fair in Paris in the largest event of its type in the French speaking world. It stands out from the rest of such industry events because of its openness to the public and rich calendar of events, debates, discussions, and meetings with authors.

The program presented at the Krakow and Wrocław stand introduced the French public to the literary heritage and the contemporary culture of Poland’s two main centers of literature. It was a four day festival, and the atmosphere of the meetings and events, as well as the participation of thousands of book fans can be easily compared to the largest literary festivals in Krakow and Wrocław. Meetings with Joanna Bator and Olga Tokarczuk, Artur Domosławski, Mariusz Szczygieł and Wojciech Tochman, Iwona Chmielewska and Joanna Olech, Zygmunt Miłoszewski and Marek Krajewski, Ewa Lipska, Tomasz Różycki and Ryszard Krynicki, as well as dozens of other invited guests, drew the public’s attention to a variety of literary genres: novel, reportage, children’s books and illustration, poetry and translation. The long list of featured guests included Polish and European intellectuals, cultural managers, and literary specialists on Central European literature: Jurij Andruchowycz, Norman Davies, Adam Michnik, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, Sylvie Germain, as well as… Roman Polański, who during the second day of the Fair attracted crowds to the stand and discussed the connection between literaure and film and his experience with adapting literature to the screen. He also talked about his newest production about the history of Alfred Dreyfus. We also discussed the greats of Polish culture who are no longer with us: Kantor, Grotowski, Szymborska, Miłosz, Schulz, as well as Polish-Jewish relations, Central European identity, feminism and values.

I can’t hide my satisfaction. The events in Paris was not only an fantastic opportunity to promote Krakow and it’s literary identity, but also to return Polish literature to the status it deserves in the European context and to strengthen interest in Polish authors in countries such as France, Canada, and Northern Africa. The Book Institute has for years done a fantastic job promoting Polish literature. Supporting these activities with participation in this event only underscored the significance of the creative sector and literature in Krakow and Wrocław through the joint presentation prepared for the Fair. This cooperation between Wrocław, Krakow and the Book Institute is a true phenomenon of brilliant collaboration and one of the most interesting undertakings of these strong cultural centers, stated Magdalena Sroka, Deputy Mayor of Krakow, thanking also the publishers and organizers of the Polish stand from Poland and France.

French publishers, media and diplomats, like Polish Ambassador Andrzej Byrt expressed great enthusiasm about the Polish presentation and the originality of the stand – distinguishing itself from other stands, including the national guest of honor Brazil. French media including Le Monde, TV5, La Liberation, L’Express, Le Nouvel Observateur, Le Figaro, and RFI all took note of the Polish presence at the Fair.

An extraordinary project. And so much interest. I am so happy that Krakow and Wrocław could invite so many authors to the Parisian Book Fair. We had the opportunity to promote the titles Wrocław will hold in 2016: European Capital of Culture and UNESCO World Book Capital. We thank the Ministry of Culture and the Book Institute for their help and cooperation, said the President of Wroclaw Rafal Dutkiewicz.

The rich and varied offer of the bookstore organized at the Polish stand (organized by the largest book retail chain FNAC) proved very popular with the crowds. There were nearly 5,000 books available, including a full range of titles that have been translated into French and published in France. The most popular books were by Witold Gombrowicz, Zygmunt Miłoszewski, Olga Tokarczuk, and also, the very popular cartoonist in France, Grzegorz Rosiński, author of the Thorgal series.

This is a very positive event. The Book Fair of this scale allow us to widen and deepen our interpersonal networks, to let the book migrate migrate from hand to hand – writers, translators, publishers and readers find each other anew in this environment. Often, coincidence causes a book to gain international popularity. This is what happened in the case of Haruki Marukami. Without such events, this wouldn’t be possible, said Joanna Bator, last year’s winner of the Nike award, present at several meetings and events.

Important elements of the organized events were meetings with translator, industry meetings, converations about the cultural politics of the cities of literature, as well as the impressive presentation of over 20 publishers from both cities. The guests of the Fair had the chance to acquaint themselves with the offer of the following publishers: BOSZ, Dwie Siostry, Format, Karakter, Lokator, MCK, Ossolineum, Orbis Pictus, Universitas, Ha!art, MOCAK, Dodoeditor, Warstwy, Wydawnictwo Dolnośląskie, Wydawnictwo SQN,Wydawnictwo Literackie, Wytwórnia, ZNAK, A5 and Znak Emotikon.

Promotion of Polish literature abroad is a tedious, never-ending job. I hope that the organizers of the Polish stand of Krakow and Wroclaw will go for it and that this one-time event will result in a real increase in interest in Polish writers in France and throughout Europe. We have literature of truly great quality; it’s not like we are trying to reach people with something that is weak. Polish theater holds a worldwide reputation, Polish cinema slowly is emerging from the shadows. Somewhere here – toutes proportions gardées – are mysteries and crime fictions, including those which I write. I hope that the exhibition in Paris will bring about true change, stated Zygmunt Miłoszewski, this year’s winner of the Polityka Passport Award.

 

During the Fair, an important meeting between the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Polish Małgorzata Omilanowska and the Minister of Culture of France Fleur Pellerin took place, during which the two signed a declaration on bilateral cooperation. This cooperation is particularly important for the promotion of reading and literature, as evidenced by not only the presence of Krakow and Wrocław as guests of honor at this year’s Book Fair in Paris, but also by the fact that France has been invited as guest of honor at the International Book Fair in Warsaw in May 2015. The declaration also highlights the importance of cooperation between museums and the importance of historical heritage, which connects the two countries. The Ministers pledged to work together on the European Union platform to support policies on artistic creation, appreciation of heritage ​​and universal access to culture. Both stressed the importance of an ambitious cultural policy to support the creation of high-quality literary works. We put a lot of effort into the organization of the Polish stand and I am pleased that it has been appreciated, says Laurence Dyèvre, literary consultant to the French Institute. You could see the results of our work: every meeting enjoyed great success, we heard a lot of compliments about the program, which, according to visitors was varied and interesting. Many people noted that they would love to have the Polish stand at the Fair every year. This causes us great satisfaction. During the last day of the Fair, an important meeting for the future of the book market and bookselling took place, wherein Andrzej Nowakowski, Grzegorz Gauden talked with the President of the French Union of Publishers BIEF, Jean-Guy Jean Boin and representatives of French bookstores. This was an important debate which fit well with the European trend of using fixed prices of book as a tool to support the development of the book market and culture.