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LITHUANIAN FEMALE ARTISTS SHONE AT FRANKFURT BOOK FAIR

Lietuvos kultūros institutas

The world is driven forward by ideas, claim the organisers of the world’s leading book fair in Frankfurt, that took place on 14-18 October this year. They invited professionals from the literary and publishing industries, writers, illustrators, designers and book lovers from all over the world to share their ideas and be inspired at thousands of events within the fair. The Lithuanian Culture Institute and its partners presented a female literary duo – illustrator Rasa Jančiauskaitė and writer Jurga Vilė, who shared their ideas as part of a special media programme for children and adolescents entitled Frankfurt Kids.

“The Frankfurt Book Fair, which pinpoints the hottest trends in literature, presents authors of global bestsellers and brings to the fore the latest technologies, always becomes the focus of international media at this time of the year. This year, Lithuania was more visible than ever as Lithuanian authors presented outstanding projects alongside foreign specialists,” says Aušrinė Žilinskienė, Director of the Lithuanian Culture Institute.

The 18th of October was a particularly important date for Lithuania at the Frankfurt Book Fair as illustrator Rasa Jančiauskaitė, Head of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair Elena Pasoli and Head of Programmes and Projects at the Lithuanian Culture Institute Rūta Nanartavičiūtė revealed to the international professional audience the eagerly awaited visual identity of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair 2020. This is the first time a Lithuanian artist has been involved in such an important creative project – the organisers of the Bologna Children’s Book Fair first noticed Rasa Jančiauskaitė’s work in a competitive exhibition of world illustrators organised by them.

Jančiauskaitė, who has been successfully progressing in the literary world, also presented her latest book, Powiedz to w mig (Signs of Silence) for deaf and hard of hearing children. Published by one of the best Polish publishers, Dwie Siostry, the book tells the true stories of six people with hearing disabilities, complemented by expressive and humorous illustrations by the author.

“The publication of this book coincided with the Frankfurt Book Fair, which was hosting an event dedicated to books on less traditional themes about living with special needs. In the case of Powiedz to w mig, it is about the positive aspects of deaf children’s lives. It is important to me that my book dealing with such a niche subject would be seen and heard about by a wide audience. Every book needs help as it begins its way to the readers, and such books, I think, need help especially, so I’m glad that the publishing of the book coincided with the events that echo its topic within the Frankfurt Book Fair and then at the Conrad Festival in Krakow, ” shared R. Jančiauskaitė.

The unique graphic novel Siberian Haiku by Jurga Vilė and Lina Itagaki, successfully presented in France and soon to be published in English, Italian, Latvian, Polish, Romanian and German, became the main topic of the discussion under the title Lithuanian graphic novels: Siberian Haiku. Writer Jurga Vilė appreciated the opportunity to present the book on the history of Lithuanian deportees in Frankfurt: “I am still a rookie in the literary world, though I started writing in my childhood. For a long time, the Frankfurt Book Fair was the only book fair abroad that I knew – so mysterious, inaccessible. And now I presented my book there. As a real writer. I felt excited and honoured.”

On 19 October, Vilė and illustrator R. Jančiauskaitė held a creative workshop.

Books created by Lithuanian artists were included in several exhibitions. Monika Vaicenavičienė’s book Vad är en flod? (What is a River?) was part of the curated exhibition 100 Outstanding Picturebooks, for which the best children’s books of 2018 were selected. This book has already been translated into 12 languages. The illustrator’s new project, together with the British writer Neal Hoskins, My Software Heart, has received recognition in a competition and has been included in a special exposition of publications Unpublished Picturebooks Showcase. The third book exhibition, Walkable Catalogue, allowed visitors to see books created by Kęstutis Kasparavičius, Lina Dūdaitė, Aušra Kiudulaitė, M. Vaicenavičienė and other Lithuanian authors.

Foreign publishers were able to get acquainted with the latest Lithuanian publications, funded through the Translation Grant Programme of the Lithuanian Culture Institute, by visiting the stand of the Lithuanian Publishers’ Association.

The names of Lithuanian writers and illustrators were also included in the catalogues and stands of foreign publishers at the Frankfurt Book Fair. The Mitteldeutscher Verlag publishing house presented the translation of Rimantas Kmita’ novel The Chronicle of the South (Die Chroniken des Südviertels), still fresh from the printing house, which would not have reached German readers without the efforts of translator Markus Roduner and the funding provided by the Institute. The legendary French publishing house Gallimard jeunesse presented pop-up books by Elena Selena, while the stand of the world’s leading publishing house Penguin Random House featured books by Rūta Šepetys and the British publishing house Oneworld presented the translation of Alvydas Šlepikas’ novel In the Shadow of Wolves.

This autumn, the Lithuanian Culture Institute presented Lithuanian authors not only at the Frankfurt Book Fair but also at other European literary events. In October, readings of Rimantas Kmita’s novel were held at the Zürich liest Festival in Switzerland. Two German cities, Berlin and Leipzig, hosted the launch of the Institute-funded translation of the book of conversations between Irena Veisaitė and Aurimas Švedas “Life Should Be Transparent“ (Ein Jahrhundertleben in Litauen, translated by Claudia Sinnig, published by Wallstein), which also included a discussion with the author. The book Powiedz to w mig by R. Jančiauskaitė, already mentioned here, was presented at the Krakow Book Fair and the Conrad Festival that takes places during the fair. In November, the translation of the graphic novel Siberian haiku by Jurga Vilė and Lina Itagaki will be presented at the Book Fair for Children and Young People in Paris, while a tour of the Italian edition of the book is planned in Italy. “It is a great coincidence that all these books testify to man’s ability to survive in difficult conditions and provide an opportunity to talk about the importance of humanness in the context of today’s political and climate crises. We are delighted to think that the Lithuanian Culture Institute, by supporting the publishing of Lithuanian literature abroad, contributes to the development of humanistic dialogue”, says Aušrinė Žilinskienė about the travels of Lithuanian literature in Europe this autumn.