Literary Germany looks to Leipzig as book fair opens | News | DW | 15.03.2012
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Literary Germany looks to Leipzig as book fair opens

Leipzig's annual book fair has opened its doors. Authors, publishers and bookworms have made their way to the historic trade fair city for one of Germany's most important literary events.

Germany's literary establishment on Thursday turned its attention to Leipzig, where over 2,000 publishers from 44 countries are showcasing their wares.

The Leipzig Book Fair is considered a test for the trade, which recorded a 1.8 percent decline in turnover last year. Classic book stores were hit hardest, seeing their business fall by three percent, according to Germany's booksellers association.

In contrast to the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, which is mainly geared towards people involved in the industry, Leipzig puts special stress on the reading public. The event includes a festival called "Leipzig liest" (Leipzig reads) that takes place throughout the four days of the fair. Martin Walser is among the thousands of authors who will be giving readings there this year.

Later on Thursday, the winners of the fair's annual German literary awards were announced. The winners take home 45,000 euros ($59,000) each.

The prize for the translation category went to Christina Viragh for her translation of "Parallelgeschichten" (Parallel Stories) by Peter Nadas.

In non-fiction Jörg Baberowski picked up the prize for his work "Burnt Earth: Stalin's Reign of Violence," while the fiction winner was Wolfgang Herrndorf for "Sand."

On the eve of the fair's opening, the city of Leipzig honored two historians with the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding. Ian Kershaw of Britain and Timothy Snyder of the United States were lauded for providing a fuller picture of Europe with their works on totalitarianism in Germany and Eastern Europe.

Ian Kershaw and Timothy Snyder

Ian Kershaw (right) and Timothy Snyder have made a mark with their books

The award, which comes with prize money of 15,000 euros, pays tribute to authors whose publications advance European reconciliation, with a special focus on Central and Eastern Europe.

Around 160,000 visitors are expected at the fair, which ends on March 18.

ncy,rc /pfd (dpa, dapd)