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Literary Programming – Guiding Principles

One of the major commitments made by Canada to the Frankfurt Book Fair as part of our 2020 Guest of Honour (GoH) presence is the organization of a literary programming.

Canada’s GoH literary programming will include: 1) the delegation of authors and illustrators who will attend the 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair to participate in various speaking engagements and presentations; 2) a series of author and illustrator visits to festivals, Literaturhäuser, residencies, and other literary events in Frankfurt and elsewhere in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland throughout 2020 as part of a broad spectrum of Canadian literary and cultural events and exhibitions linked to our Guest of Honour year; and 3) other related literary programming such as poetry slams, storytelling, readings with music, film adaptations of novels, documentaries on authors, etc.

Responsibility for planning and delivering the literary programming has been contracted to Canada FBM2020 by the Department of Canadian Heritage.  

Canada FBM2020 is now pleased to announce plans for the organization of the programming. Our goal is to work with a dedicated Literary Programming Committee and our Canadian and German partners to deliver an outstanding and diverse programming that is representative of Canadian authors and illustrators.  

We emphasize that there are two intersecting areas of interest within this project: that of Canada’s creators and publishers, who want their work presented in German-language territories; and that of German-language publishers and programmers, who have an interest in Canada yet remain attentive to their German audience. The Canadian industry will propose participants, and the German industry will make their selections from this group. A limited number of authors/illustrators/performers will benefit from this prestigious initiative.

Canada FBM2020 Mandate and Commitment to Diversity

The literary programming must represent:

  • Indigenous, Francophone, and Anglophone literature, writing, and literary expression in Canada;
  • the various regions of Canada;
  • literary and non-literary genres;
  • books for all ages: children, young adults, and adults.

The declared priorities of the Department of Canadian Heritage for this project are to:

  • promote an inclusive and diverse society;
  • work toward reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Canadians;
  • engage youth;
  • reaffirm the importance of strong environmental stewardship.

Description of the Project

In early 2019, Canada FBM2020 has established a dedicated Literary Programming Committee to plan, manage, and deliver Canada’s literary programming.

Committee Member Profiles

Committee members have experience with literary festivals, fairs, salons du livre, or other similar events.   

Deliverables

Canada FBM2020 is planning for a minimum of 80 Canadian authors and illustrators to participate in GoH activities in 2020. The events at the Fair itself, from October 14-18, 2020, and in the city of Frankfurt during that week, will be the centrepiece of Canada’s GoH presence, and we are also planning for authors/illustrators/performers to travel to Germany to participate in other events throughout the year.

The Committee will be responsible for organizing the literary programming, with these main areas of activity:

  1. Finalize a list of criteria for the inclusion of authors/illustrators/performers in the delegation and share this list of criteria with the Canadian industry;
  2. Prepare a master schedule of literary and cultural events in which Canadian authors/illustrators/performers might participate in 2020, e.g., festivals, book fairs, readings and slams, individual author/illustrator tours, colloquia, residencies, exhibits, workshops, etc.;
  3. Communicate with the German programmers of these events to learn what is of interest to them, and then hold discussions with them to determine the Canadian authors, illustrators, performers, and topics;
  4. Assist with planning and scheduling when an author/illustrator/performer is invited to one of those events;
  5. Propose, confirm, and schedule the GoH author/illustrator/performer delegation for the 2020 Frankfurt Book Fair;
  6. Maintain a master schedule for all confirmed GoH literary events.

A major milestone for Canada FBM2020, and thus for the Literary Programming Committee, is to have the delegation and reading tour lists ready, and to start the activities and promotion in Germany by March 2020, at the Leipzig Book Fair.  

Delegation of Authors/Illustrators

To a large extent, the makeup of the GoH literary programming will be based on invitations extended by German publishers, festivals, Literaturhäuser, etc.  

There will be clear criteria for authors and illustrators to be considered for inclusion in the GoH literary programming. The first criteria are:

  1. The author/illustrator has a German commercial partner for their work.
  2. The author/illustrator has a recent German release. This is an important consideration for German publishers and programmers, whose interest is in engaging the German public with new work.
  3. The author/illustrator is notable through reputation or through subject matter of interest in Germany but has been overlooked in the process of translation.

We expect there will be opportunities to program events with certain Canadian authors/illustrators whose work has not, or not yet, been published in Germany, but these will not be the main focus of the programming.

Photo: Gaëlle Marcel on Unsplash

Canadian Books Published in German for 2020?

Seeking Canadian books published in German for 2020

Canada FBM2020 has hired an external committee of literary programmers (The Literary Programming Committee) to program events featuring Canadian authors and illustrators in Germany in 2020 during the lead-up to and at the Frankfurt Book Fair where Canada will be the Guest of Honour.

One of the important criteria for participation in the official literary program is a German-language edition of a work available in the German market during the 2020 year.

If you are aware of a work by a Canadian author or illustrator which will be available in German in the German marketplace in 2020, there are two ways that you can let us know. You can complete the following form or contact Hal Wake, chair of the Literary Programming Committee: hwake@canadafbm2020.com.

Please note that this call is for information gathering purposes. A separate and more formal submission process with specific submission criteria will be announced in the coming weeks.

For more information on the official literary programming please check out our FAQ page.

Photo: Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Announcement: Canada FBM2020 Literary Programming Committee Members

On Friday, April 12th, at the Salon international du livre de Québec, Canada FBM2020 revealed the names of the Literary Programming Committee members who will develop, plan and coordinate our literary activities in Frankfurt and Germany in 2020: Heather Kanabe, Claudia Larochelle and Hal Wake will compose the committee.

For more information on the Literary Programming Committee, consult the official press release. 

One of the major commitments made by Canada to the Frankfurt Book Fair as part of our 2020 Guest of Honour (GoH) presence is the organization of a literary programme.

Click here for more information on the committee mandate and selection process.

FAQ

Photo: Gaelle Marcel on Unsplash

2018 Trade Mission in Germany: Report

Livres Canada Books and Canada FBM2020 undertook a trade mission to Germany last summer in order to evaluate this market’s potential for Canadian publishers ahead of 2020. The delegation consisted of 23 Canadian book publishers, two agencies, representatives of the industry who are active in the German market. Delegates met with selected German publishers and potential partners in order to extend their overview of this market. Download your copy of Livres Canada Books report on the mission.

En route to Frankfurt in 2020!

Fellowship of German Publishers to Western Canada

Canada FBM2020 is working with key partners from the Government of Canada and the Canadian book publishing industry to present major programming elements as part of Canada’s presence as the Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2020. Responsibility for organizing fellowships, trade missions, and other business exchange programmes for professional development and networking exchanges between German and Canadian publishers has been contracted to Canada FBM2020 by the Department of Canadian Heritage. With this in mind, Canada FBM2020 has organized a fellowship of German publishers to Western Canada in partnership with several regional publishing associations, marking the first initiative of this kind for this part of the country. 

The Fellowship 

In partnership with the Association of Book Publishers of British Columbia (ABPBC), the Book Publishers Association of Alberta (BPAA), the Association of Manitoba Book Publishers (AMBP), and the Saskatchewan Publishers Group (SaskBooks) and with the financial support of the Embassy of Canada to Germany, the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in Germany, Creative BC, the Alberta Cultural Industries Branch, and Canada FBM2020, nine (9) German publishers will attend networking sessions and programming in Vancouver, BC and Edmonton, AB from February 25th, 2019 to March 1st, 2019 to meet with Canadian publishers from BC, Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. The fellowship is designed to support the development of Canadian publishers’ professional networks with German publishing houses in advance of Canada’s presentation as Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2020. 

The Program 

While in Western Canada, the visiting German publishers will meet with their Canadian counterparts for organized quick-pitch meetings. Through a variety of presentations given by experts in the field, they will also learn about the diversity of the Canadian publishing industry and the literary traditions and innovations of the region. Organized tours to local books stores and libraries as well as visits to literary and cultural landmarks in the region will take place. German publishers will also be introduced to Indigenous publishing and culture, including a movie screening of Three Feathers based on the novel by bestselling author Richard Van Camp.

The Delegation

Carlsen Verlag, Brigitte Kälble, editor (children) 
CH Beck Verlag, Dr Stefan Bollmann, editor (non-fiction) 
Heyne Verlag / Random House GmbH , Tim Andreas Müller (fiction) 
KiWi Verlag (Kiepenheuer & Witsch), Mona Lang, editor (fiction) 
Matthes & Seitz, Loan Nguyen, rights (non-fiction) 
Merlin Verlag, Katharina Eleonore Meyer, publisher/editor (children) Schoeffling & Co , Sabine Bauman, editor (fiction, poetry)  
Suhrkamp, Christian Heilbronn, editor (non-fiction) 
Urachhaus, Michael Stehle, editor (children) 

Photo: Andrea Boegner (Canadian Embassy in Germany), Dr. Klaus Otto Schmidt (Consul General), Tim Andreas Müller, Mona Lang, Dr Stefan Bollmann, Sabine Bauman, Christian Heilbronn, Brigitte Kälble, Michael Stehle, Gillian Fizet (Canada FBM2020), Katharina Eleonore Meyer, Heidi Waechtler (ABPBC)

Canada at Leipzig Book Fair 2019

In collaboration with the Embassy of Canada to Germany and Livres Canada Books, Canada FBM2020 is pleased to announce that Canada will have a stand at the 2019 edition of the Leipzig Book Fair (March 21-24).

Leipzig is the second largest German fair after the Frankfurt Book Fair, therefore an essential event for the book industry, and especially important for Canada next spring: traditionally, the Leipzig Fair serves as a strategic location for the Frankfurt Guest of Honour to launch its literary programming.

This year, Canada will take an active part in the Book Fair activities, with the following programme:

Thursday, March 21st, Forum International Stage, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Reading with the Canadian author Kim Thúy, moderated by Toby Ashraf
Location: Hall 4 Stand C505

Thursday, March 21, 5 pm
Reception at the Canada stand
Location: Hall 4 Stand D300

Friday, March 22, 2 pm
Signing session with the Canadian author Kim Thuy
Location: Hall 4 Stand D300

Saturday, March 23, 11:30 am -12 pm
Signing session with the Instagram poet Atticus
Location: Hall 4 Stand D300

Saturday, March 23, 3 pm
Literature from Canada: unique, diverse!
In preparation for our guest appearance at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2020, we present untranslated books from all parts of our great country – known voices as well as young authors of all genres.
Location: Hall 4 Stand D300

Saturday, March 23, 3:30 pm
Reception for German Booksellers 
Canada welcomes you to its stand at the Leipzig Book Fair on an exclusive reception for German booksellers: they are invited to chat with the team, the Canadian publishers and authors.
Location: Hall 4 Stand D300

Attendance at Leipzig, therefore, provides an ideal window for learning more about the German market, the Guest of Honour Program, making appropriate contacts, strengthening existing relationships and discovering new business opportunities. A delegation of 9 publishing houses and 1 literary agency will participate, including:

Breakwater Books, breakwaterbooks.com
Pedlar Press, pedlarpress.com
Running the Goat Books & Broadsides, runningthegoat.com
Beth Follet, Publisher
 
ECW Press, ecwpress.com
Emily Ferko, Sales, Operations, Rights

Fernwood Publishing, fernwoodpublishing.ca
James Patterson, Rights, Permissions and Finances
 
Éditions Chouette, edition-chouette.com
Simon Payette, Executive Director
 
Éditions de la nouvelle plume, plume.refc.ca
Martine Noël-Maw, Publisher
 
Greystone Books, greystonebooks.com
Susanne Rolf, Publisher Associate
 
Groupe d’édition La courte échelle, groupecourteechelle.com
Mariève Talbot, Executive Director
 
L’Instant même, instantmeme.com
Geneviève Pigeon, CEO and Director
 
Monsieur ED, monsieured.com
Alice Liénard, Publisher & Literary Director
 
Westwood Creative Artists, wcaltd.com
Meg Wheeler, Literary Agent

For more information, consult the guidelines.

Looking forward to having you along for the adventure!

Canadian publishers, have you concluded a German rights deal?

Canadian publishers and literary agents, have you concluded a German rights deal since October 2016?

If so, congratulations! We want to hear from you!

For reporting purposes, we are tracking German rights deals from October 2016 to 2020.

Please be sure to tell us about any rights deals you make by clicking here.

On the way with publisher: Munich – Leipzig – Berlin

In 2020 Canada will be the guest of honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair…

…Preparations are already underway. There will be incentive programs for translation, production and advertising costs; there will be fellowships and information material and this year publishers from Canada will once again attend the Frankfurt Book Fair.

In July a group of 25 publishers and literary agents from Canada travelled around Germany and I joined them.

We started off in Munich – a city which is home to many publishers, lots of parks and cultural institutions. First we met in a beer-garden in beautiful weather in order to get to know one another, after which the week started with informative talks at the House of Literature in Munich.

The participants were given information about Munich’s cultural scene, the Frankfurt Book Fair and the guest of honour program as well as the German book market. After all the input and being affected by jetlag, the unavoidable result of travelling across the Atlantic, it was good to be able to stretch your legs and change your location. Part of the group was expected at the International Youth Library and the other part at the independent bookshop Lehmkuhl, where one or two books from Canada adorned the bookshelves.

The following day several local publishers joined the Canadian group at the House of Literature in Munich and this time the tables were turned. Now the focus was on the Canadian book market with titles in English and French and the first of two speed-dating sessions was initiated. On the third floor, where – reminiscent of Canada’s fauna – Thomas Mann’s bear stands guard, Canadians and Germans got to know one another, exchanged views and maybe prepared the ground for one or two book-deals. With a beautiful rainbow the city wished us all bon voyage for the next part of our trip.

Early the next morning we left the narrow streets of the Bavarian capital behind and travelled towards Berlin by bus.

We saw alternating scenery along the autobahn. We made a stop in Leipzig, in order to learn more about their local book fair. The talk by the book fair director Oliver Zille and our subsequent tour of the empty, heated glass hall which is attended by many book publishers and booklovers every March, seemed like a dream. An acrobatically taken group photograph captured this short passage in the City of Books and Music.

We drove into Berlin via Steglitz-Zehlendorf and stopped off at the Literary Colloquium in Berlin (LCB) located at the picturesque Wannsee lake, where we were greeted warmly. The translator Frank Heibert had visited the book fair in Quebec City, Canada, in April and provided insights into his experiences with book agents in a meaningful and amusing talk. He provided suggestions which could be considered during the second speed-dating session at the Canadian Embassy on the following day. Many interested local people came to the embassy, in order to meet the Canadians. Ambassador Stéphane Dion greeted them. This was followed by introductory talks and lively participation in the last speed-dating session.

On the last day of the trip, during which we had gained many impressions, made new contacts and strengthened existing ones, we visited the publishers Suhrkamp and had a tour of the large bookstore Kulturkaufhaus Dussmann.

After that the participants returned to various cities in Canada. Some of them will come back to Frankfurt in October.

I wonder which books they will carry in their luggage then and which titles may by then have appeared on the German market.

On se voit là-bas! See you there! Bis bald!

See also: Photos from the Mission

By Jennifer Dummer
Translated from German by Ruth Segal

A German Perspective on Quebec’s Market and Hints for Success at Frankfurt

In April 2018, Québec Édition, the export arm of ANEL, the association of Quebec book publishers, hosted a delegation of German book professionals at the Salon international du livre du Québec (SILQ). On this unique occasion, three of the eight German guests took part in a roundtable discussion on the German market, the Frankfurt Book Fair and plans for the Guest of Honour in 2020.

The roundtable was open to ANEL’s member publishers and was organized and moderated by Karine Vachon, Québec Édition’s director of salons and book fairs, with the intention of providing more information about the German market and taking a reading of community expectations.

About the Panellists

Frank Heibert (F. H.) translates from French and English into German, and among other things has translated Canadian prose and drama. He considers himself to be an ambassador for Canadian books in Germany. He lives in Berlin and studied literature in Berlin, Rome and Paris. His Ph.D. thesis dealt with plays on words and their translation, particularly in Joyce’s Ulysses. Since 1983, he has been translating literary and dramatic works from English, French, Italian and Portuguese into German. Among the authors whose works he has translated are Don DeLillo, Richard Ford, William Faulkner, George Saunders, Tobias Wolff, Lorrie Moore, Tony Kushner, Neil LaBute, Boris Vian, Alfred Jarry, Marie Darrieussecq, Yasmina Reza, Raymond Queneau, Italo Svevo, Francesco Pacifico and Jorge de Sena.

Christian Ruzicska (C. R.) is a publisher with Sécession, a small independent house that has specialized in world literature since it was founded 10 years ago. Christian selects the titles on his list by personal preference. His publications are mainly international literary works from across the globe with, currently, a particular emphasis on writing in French. Generally, the house is very attentive to the literary quality of manuscripts, and its books are widely recognized for this quality by the German media.

Patricia Klobusiczky (P. K.) translates French and English into German, has previously been a publisher herself, and has worked with the publishing industry for 25 years. She studied literary translation at Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and worked as a publisher for 10 years. She has translated, from French and English into German, the works of Jean Prévost, Louise de Vilmorin, Henri-Pierre Roché, Marie Darrieussecq, Laurence Tardieu, Françoise Giroud, Sophie Divry, Valérie Zenatti and Ruth Zylberman, as well as Molly Antopol, William Boyd, Lorrie Moore, Frances Itani, Curtis Sittenfeld and Petina Gappah, among others. She is also a tutor of young Francophone and Germanophone literary translators with the Georges-Arthur Goldschmidt Program, and president of the VdÜ – the Association of German-speaking Translators of Literary and Scientific Works.

Left to right: Patricia Klobusicszky, Frank Heibert, Karine Vachon

What is the current state of the book market in Germany?

(Generally positive response from the participants. They begin with their individual perspective.)

C. R.: Owing to the success of a particular book, our house is in good shape. We acquired the rights to a story by Deborah Feldman that was very well received. Currently there is a feeling of fatigue among publishers and booksellers – as a small publisher, I have observed that you must really win over the latter if you want your books to sell.

P. K.: We’ve lost six million readers in recent years, and the large publishers are worried. That is perhaps the reason why they have been more reluctant or skittish when approached to purchase rights, given the uneasiness generated by this trend.

F. H.: Where title selection is concerned, I suggest relying on what is out of the ordinary and of practical interest to publishers – books that are not interchangeable.

The German industry publishes among the highest numbers of translations in the world – why is that? 

P. K.: Translation is a longstanding German tradition. Because of the country’s geographical location – and following the Second World War – people were eager to discover the world, and that had its effect for reading, among other things.

F. H.: The German language is spoken by relatively few people around the world, and Germans wanted to explore other cultures, which they did through translations.

How is the Guest of Honour country usually received?

C. R.: The objective is to transport the spirit of the Guest of Honour country to Germany. We want to be pleasantly surprised by a new culture and its vitality – and you would be well advised to avoid copying the strategies adopted by other honoured countries. And, most importantly – you must put in work before, during and after the fair – for months after; it is very important to follow up.

F. H.: To be properly prepared, you must ask the Germans all kinds of questions. And be wary of the goal of offering “a lot of choice in little time” – we want to see more quality than quantity, to avoid confusion and an overload. It is better to introduce 25 writers really well than 100 any which way.

P. K.: As the Guest of Honour, Hungary did a very good job. It’s a small country, it was very well prepared, and 28 years later, Hungarian literature continues to have a presence in Germany, despite supposedly being inaccessible – less humour, hard to read, dry subjects, etc. As compared to other larger countries, whose organization, too highly centralized, was disastrous. For example, there were the readings in literary centres. The Germans love to attend these readings (readings in literary centres are bilingual, in both German and the original language). Germans make up a loyal audience with a strong sense of decorum, and the literary centres publish their programming months in advance. If the Guest of Honour country wants to see its writers included in their programming, they must cooperate with the literary centres and the German publishers. In the case of other honoured countries, some writers appeared all alone at the readings, without their publisher or an audience; it’s a shame – these occasions were spoiled by a lack of preparation.

C. R.: It’s always better to have the writers go on tour after the fair; a good strategy is to invite them for the last days of the fair and take them around afterwards. But be careful – you have to plan months ahead, beginning in June, to get everything set up.

P. K.: And don’t forget Switzerland and Austria, also countries where German is spoken. Other interesting countries that were honoured – Iceland had a magnificent stand and we were enchanted by its literature, but also by its culture in general. It’s therefore also important to introduce other art forms.

F. H.: Aside from exotic Guest of Honour countries, which can easily surprise us, some countries that are closer to our own had ideas with content (and didn’t rely on their ego) – you have to find the substance of Quebec and get beyond preconceived ideas and marketing notions. And that can be seen in the choice of writers. For example, in Quebec, you are living in a rather unusual situation in which immigration does not cause conflict.

Frank and Patricia, as translators do you function as explorers, or do you rather receive specific assignments from the publishers who want to work with you?

F. H.: In my case, publishers contact me. For a publisher, choosing a translator is like casting a film. They have to ask themselves, Who will be the German voice for this book I want to translate? And then we are approached, according to our specialization. We can also propose books we particularly like. Since at the moment there are few exchanges between the Germans and Quebec, the translators who come here can act as scouts.

P. K.: A friendship is established between a translator and a publisher and then a relationship of trust grows up. But discoveries can also come from booksellers. Here’s an interesting anecdote: One small bookseller downtown boycotted France last year by setting up a table that featured only titles from Quebec. That bookseller had discovered Nicolas Dickner, and he liked his writing so much that he was motivated to research and read other Québécois titles.

How can Québécois titles win you over?C. R.: It’s already done! If a title pleases me, it gives me the energy to follow through. It’s hard to find translators – the decision has to be made now, because soon it might be too late.

Is Quebec’s position as a Francophone cultural space a strategic advantage? Is there a Francophile factor? Or none at all?

P. K.: Seen from Germany, linguistic peculiarities are enchanting to translators.

F. H.: It’s potential to be developed – and if people are unaware, they will not be interested. It has to be talked about. The aspect of being Francophone on an Anglophone continent adds a certain appeal, but it has to be used to your advantage as a tool.

P. K.: For example, why not work up a glossary of typical Québécois expressions for distribution at Frankfurt?

Aside from literature, how interested are Germans in other types of books?

C. R.: There has been more interest recently in publishing for children and young people – that is going very well.

F. H.: It is more complicated for non-fiction, even German non-fiction.

P. K.: Comics and graphic novels represent a market to be developed; for several years now, we have seen growth in the trend for the genre in Germany – and as for non-fiction, it would be favourable for non-fiction that introduces readers to Quebec.

Main photo, from left to right: Christian Ruzicska, Patricia Klobusiczky, Frank Heibert et Karine Vachon

Frank Heibert: The Quality Approach

In July, twenty-five Canadian publishers from across the country went on a scouting mission to Germany. While abroad, they had the opportunity to not only meet with German publishers and visit some of the country’s best publishing houses, but also hear from some of the German industry’s most prominent and knowledgeable professionals. One of those publishing professionals was translator Frank Heibert, who has translated works by writers such as Don DeLillo, George Saunders, Richard Ford, William Faulkner, George F. Walker, Yasmina Reza, Raymond Queneau, Michel-Marc Bouchard, and Suzanne Lebeau.

In a talk on what makes Canadian literature interesting for German publishers and readers, Heibert outlines what works and doesn’t work for the German market.

What works?

Strength in Canada’s diversity.

Beyond Canada’s image as a ‘nice’ country, German readers are interested in Canada’s experience with immigration. A society that celebrates diversity over assimilation “has an immense richness of sources and backgrounds of its people to show for (be they First Nations, Catholic Québécois, Hassidic Jews, Muslim migrants, … migrants from the Caribbean, South-Eastern Europe or Asia). And the richness of that mix necessarily surfaces in the literature that is written, by those different voices and sources or about them. Canada and Québec have an advance on Europe in these things, and that definitely creates interest beyond ‘nice’.”

It all comes back to Nature.

“There is a yearning, in Germany, for wide, wild, untouched worlds and an interest in how we humans can handle them, live in them or not. This aspect gives Canada an exotic, adventure-like touch – the extremes of the climate, the challenge nature can represent (shall I call it ‘the bear element’?), and it is part of what a German immediately thinks of when hearing Canada.”

Perspective is key.

Pointing to works like Christian Bök’s The Xenotext and Karoline Georges’ Sous béton, Heibert has found unique perspectives in Canadian authored works, whether utopian or dystopian in nature. For a country like Germany, “which has its hands full with digesting the past and trying to understand the present, this quality of tackling the future is refreshing, interesting, attractive.”

What doesn’t work?

Happy endings. “German publishers are not afraid of bad endings, they probably find them more believable. … If we want feel good books, we pick up commercial fiction meant to entertain, and that’s fine. But when we’re talking about art, literature as an art form, we seem to prefer the new, the challenging, the provocation.”

Instructive fiction. “Sometimes, a novel that is about an issue comes with a lot of helpful, but ‘unprocessed’ background information. That didactic aspect wrapped up in fiction doesn’t seem to work so well for Germans; if we want to learn, we either take up non-fiction, or we don’t want to notice we are learning while entering into a different world through fiction.”

TMI (Too Much Information). “Memoirs do work when the life they unfold is in some way exemplary. However, novel-like books being centered around one single ego, leaving nothing unsaid, while it soon becomes clear that that this ego belongs to the author – this kind of autofiction seems to work better in Canada than in Germany.”

What can Canadian publishers do to find German homes for their titles?

Focus on the gems. “I‘d like to encourage you to bet on class, not on mass, and by that I want to say: focus on the special books you do, the singular and peculiar ones. Not the books where it doesn’t matter if they were written in Canada, Sweden or Spain – the mainstream will travel anyway, most of the time. But the unique works are your quality assets, they can make sure that your appearance in Frankfurt will make an impact, will not be over after two months but start or deepen a tradition of publishing Canadian and Québécois literature in German.”

And last but not least…

Act quickly! “German publishers are deciding about their programs for 2020, if they haven’t done it already, between now and November, or latest, Christmas this year. The books will have to be translated some time in 2019, so that’s the timeframe we’re looking at for the majority of publishing houses. So if there is interest coming from a German publisher for reading a pdf or for starting negotiations on rights, please act fast, react fast.”

Canada FBM2020 thanks translator Frank Heibert for his time and sharing his expertise in what makes a good book travel!

Photo: Frank Heibert
By Frank Heibert, abridged version by Jolise Beaton