Harriet Williams is literature programme manager, Arts at the
variety of genres. Dehnel is also an established
poet and will discuss Polish Poetic Universes
alongside Marzanna Kielar at the first seminar
of the Fair at 10am today in the Club Room
(National Hall Gallery).
Illustration duo the Mizielińskis have sold
their book Maps in 32 different languages
and will be taking part in a live drawing
event at the Polish stand on Wednesday at
2:30pm. The great Polish genre of reportage
is represented by Ewa Winnicka and Artur
Domosławski, both of whom will take part
in a discussion entitled What Place for
Reportage in a Post-Truth World? on
Wednesday at 1pm in the Club Room.
The professional programme, devised by the
PBI, the UK Publishers Association and LBF, will introduce
publishers to the Polish book market. Events include Digital
Poland: New Trends in Publishing from The Witcher’s
Homeland at 11:30am today (Cross Media Theatre), and
Pub TechPoland, which is going on throughout the Fair, and
aims to introduce the world to the creativity of Polish
publishing software companies.
And while London Book Fair is the centre point of the
Polish programme, there is much more to come. The year
2017 is also the 160th anniversary of the birth of Joseph
Conrad, the most British of Polish writers, and so the
British Council and Polish Cultural Institute are working
with Comma Press to produce Conradology, an anthology
of short stories responding to Joseph Conrad, by both
British and Polish writers.
The British Council, Polish Book Institute and Polish
Cultural Institute will support Polish writers visiting UK
festivals, and UK writers attending Polish festivals,
throughout the summer months. The Polish Cultural
Institute runs its own extensive programme of writer events
each year, and this year we are pleased to collaborate with
them on elements of their programme. Together we are
producing a series of educational resources aimed at
teachers of seven to 11-year-olds to help them to introduce
Polish culture to their students, which will be launched on
Polish children’s day, 1st June.
The Cultural Programmes are always bilateral and this year
the Big Book Festival in Warsaw will host a British-themed
day, with visiting UK authors, events and a celebration of
Jane Austen’s bicentenary.
The richness of the Polish literature scene will be on full
display during the Fair and the next six months in the UK.
It’s a great opportunity to get up to speed on contemporary
Polish culture. ■
Over the last 11 years of the British Council’s
partnership with LBF on the Market Focus,
we have hosted writers from Han Kang to
Elif Shafak to Elena Poniatowska, and
programmed seminars on subjects as varied
as Mexican journalism and Chinese science
fiction, writes Harriet Williams.
The British Council supports the Market
Focus programme because it provides a unique
opportunity to bring different cultures into
conversation with each other, to get more books
into translation from each language in each
country, and to promote cultural exchange and
friendship between the two countries. Countries
to benefit from the Market Focus in the past
few years include Mexico, Korea and Turkey,
and this year it is the turn of Poland.
And so to Poland
Poland’s turn as Market Focus has been eagerly anticipated.
Poland had four Nobel laureates for literature in the 20th
century and has had a long and venerable literary tradition,
which has sustained it through the hardships of that century.
Economically, in 2016 it was the fifth fastest growing
economy in the EU. There is a big market for rights sales: in
2015, 21.5% of published titles were translations, and of
those 57% came from English-speaking countries.
Additionally, Polish is the second most spoken language in
the UK, and so close collaboration between our literature
sectors is a worthy objective.
Our partner, the Polish Book Institute (PBI), already runs
a varied programme of translation subsidies and samples,
and alongside the Polish Cultural Institute in the UK (and
elsewhere) works tirelessly to promote Polish literary
culture overseas. The British Council already had excellent
relationships with which to work and build on. On visiting
Poland and meeting representatives from its literature
sector, what strikes the visitor is the readiness of the Polish
literature sector to engage with digital and embrace the
challenges facing the industry. Whether by developing an
ebook library in bus stops, or by placing booksellers on the
protected trades list (thereby securing cheaper rents), the
sector is up for a challenge.
The British Council and Polish Book Institute are supporting
12 Polish authors coming to the Book Fair. These writers,
some of the best that Poland has to offer, represent a range
of genres and styles. We have the great Olga Tokarczuk,
who is Author of the Day on Wednesday and soon to be
published by Fitzcarraldo Editions. See her at the English
PEN Literary Salon on Wednesday at 2:30pm.
Amongst the fiction writers are also Zygmunt Miłoszewski
and Jacek Dehnel, both versatile novelists who write in a
Market Focus Poland imagery
Introducing the Poland Market Focus