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Leipzig Goes Literary

The Leipzig Book Fair opens on Wednesday. Travel and religion are this year's themes and the festival, under the motto "Leipzig Reads," is presenting a bevy of authors and works, both old and new.


Leipzig prepares a welcome for international bookworms

Leipzig means literature this week, since the eastern German city is welcoming hundreds of authors and fans of the written word to this year's Leipzig Book Fair.

Germany’s Culture Minister Christina Weiss will be on hand to officially open the fair, which brings together more than 1,900 publishers from over 30 countries who will present their latest offerings to the public.

The festival -- which features travel and religion as its main themes this year -- plans over 650 readings and literature-related events with over 750 authors.

Günter Grass

Günter Grass.

Among them will be Günther Grass, one of Germany's most famous contemporary authors. Grass, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1999, will read from his new works.

Literary lions and first-time novelists

Grass will be joined by another Nobel Prize winner, Imre Kertész, the 73 year-old Auschwitz survivor who won last year's award. Kertész was the first Hungarian to win the prize and was honored by the Nobel jury for his "writing that upholds the fragile experience of the individual against the barbaric arbitrariness of history."

Ian McEwan - Autor

Ian McEwan.

Other renowned literary figures who will be at the fair include the British writer Ian McEwan. The Booker prize-winning author of "Enduring Love" and "Atonement" is one of the nominees up for this year's German Book Prize.

German author Paul Maar and Russian-born writer Vladimir Kaminer are also up for Germany’s highest literary honor which will be awarded on Friday. Kaminer, who left the Soviet Union for East Germany in 1990, skyrocketed to fame in Germany after he published his best-selling book, “Russian Disco,” a series of anecdotal tales about life in the German capital seen through the eyes of a Russian Jew.

Hugo Claus to receive prize

The Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding will also be awarded at the fair. The recipient this year is the Belgium writer and director Hugo Claus, who was awarded the prize for his works dealing with the abyss of modern civilization and in particular for his novel, "The Grief of Flanders," which deals with the themes of fascism and collaboration.

But the fair is not just a bastion of the tried and true. Over 80 first-time writers will launch their debut novels at the exposition. The Leipzig book fair is considered an important forum for new writers.

The Leipzig Book Fair runs until March 23rd.

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