Today, Canada concludes its unprecedented two years as the Guest of Honour Country at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Participating in the ceremonial handover of the Guest of Honour scroll, Canadian representatives exchanged the Frankfurt Book Fair scroll with representatives from the incoming Guest of Honour country, Spain. Canada was represented by Caroline Fortin, President of CanadaFBM2021, a consortium created by the Canadian Publishing Industry to plan and coordinate the literary program and the participation of Canadian publishers. Spain was represented by María José Gálvez, Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sport, Director General of Books and Promotion of Reading.
The Handover Ceremony included a moderated discussion between two distinguished authors, Canadian Dany Laferrière and Spain’s Manuel Vilas. The pair discussed their books and created links between the two countries via common themes in the two authors’ writing. During the event, Canada thanked Spain, as well as the 2023 Guest of Honour Slovenia and the 2024 Guest of Honour Italy, for their support in extending Canada’s Guest of Honour year.
After facing the remarkable challenge of COVID-19 and extending the Guest of Honour duties from 2020 into 2021, Canadian creators rose to the occasion. This year brought with it a round of firsts, including the very first virtual Guest of Honour pavilion, which provided guests the opportunity to experience the Canada pavilion from the comfort of their own home. The piece complements the physical pavilion, designed to reflect the richness of Canada’s natural environment that serves as inspiration for our authors and illustrators. This interactive digital space used innovative features including touchless, interactive screens featuring Canadian creators, video conversations with the literary delegations, and a stage for live events and cultural performances. The Fair also served as the first official state visit by Her Excellency Mary Simon, the Governor General of Canada, who was delighted to speak at the Opening Ceremony on October 19.
Canada’s closes out its successful Guest of Honour presence with several highlights that showcased Canadian literary talent, arts, culture and landscapes throughout 2020-2021 around Europe. In total, 167 literary events with 160 creators and 219 cultural events featuring 417 artists were held in Germany and online, as well as across 50 different cities. With Canadian creators taking centre stage, interest in Canadian-produced content saw a rise. At more than 350 titles, the number of Canadian books translated into German surpassed expectations. In addition, 58 Canadian authors and illustrators participated virtually and in person at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Much of Canada’s programming is still available to view on the Canadafbm2021 website or on its YouTube page, including five author panels produced in collaboration with CBC/Radio-Canada: