Prague's annual Book World book fair begins a new chapter this weekend

The festival is back following last year's closures with bestselling authors David Mitchell, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Laurent Binet attending.


Written by ČTK Published on 24.09.2021 09:02:00 (updated on 07.12.2021) Reading time: 2 minutes

Prague, Sept 23 (CTK) - The four-day 26th annual Book World international trade fair and literary festival started in the traditional venue, the Industrial Palace at Prague's exhibition grounds, today, it's 152 stands attracting the first hundreds of visitors.

In the past years, the fair saw as many as about 50,000 visitors, but such a high number is not expected to come this year, also due to the persisting anti-COVID measures, Jana Chalupova said on behalf of the organizers.

The festival has been visited by almost 300 publishing houses and 600 participants from 27 countries and regions. Running through September 26, its motto is "My home is in language".

This year will see a detailed presentation of the literature of France, which is the honorary guest of the event.

"On the occasion of this honorary invitation, we wanted to offer a look into the work and literature created in the French language in all their diversity, and also highlight the European upholding of our support for translation. It is translators and publishers who initiate translations and help launch texts and ideas into circulation," said the French Ambassador to the Czech Republic, Alexis Dutertre.

Festival guests include Laurent Binet, the French author of the novel HHhH which depicts the circumstances of the assassination of high Nazi officer Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1942. At the festival, he will present the Czech translation of his latest book the alt-history Civilisations, which sees the Incas turning the tables on the conquistadors.

Another notable guest, French author Jean-Dominique Brierre, wrote the newly released Milan Kundera biography and will speak about Kundera, a writer born in Brno and with France as his other home in exile.

In addition, the festival will welcome British author David Mitchell, African author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, author of the bestselling novel Americanah, and Polish writers Witold Szablowski and Martyna Bund, all of whom will present their latest works, alongside leading Czech authors.

As part of the festival, Mitchell will attend a screening of the film based on his novel Atlas of Clouds on Sunday, Sept. 26, and participate in a discussion following. The event takes place at Přítomnost Boutique Cinema at 20:00.

Belarusian writers living in exile will also be presented in Prague. The festival's new section, "Literature as the Voice of Freedom," will introduce poets Andrei Khadanovich and Dmitry Strotsev in a discussion moderated by Czech author Jachym Topol.

Once again, the festival will offer the traditional Das Buch event prepared by Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

More information about Book World is available on its website.

Association of Czech Booksellers and Publishers head Martin Vopenka said in a panel organized by the festival today that the sales of books decreased by 10 to 15 percent during the coronavirus pandemic in Czechia.

"The drop is not drastic, booksellers would estimate it at 30 percent, but e-shops made up for it," Vopenka said.

According to the latest report on the Czech book market issued last December, turnover for 2019 was CZK 8.6 billion crowns, CZK 0.3 billion more than in 2018.

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