Taming Writers Failed Why and how the Georgian independent stand was organized at the Frankfurt Book Fair

21 Mar, 2024

The Frankfurt Book Fair 2023 was of critical importance to our country. Publishers and writers from a country with a solid reputation, being in a boycott with the Ministry of Culture and Sports, were faced with the task of maintaining the connections they had developed over the years and adequately presenting the real picture of Georgian literature. This mission was successfully completed with the support of the Civil Society Foundation.

The Frankfurt Book Fair is a valuable platform for the popularization of Georgian literature, cooperation with foreign publishers and the sale of copyrights. Throughout years, the national stand of our country at the Fair was organized jointly by the Georgian Publishers and Booksellers Association and the Writers’ House of Georgia with the financial support of the Ministry of Culture and Sports.

This summer, more that 100 writers and publishers members of the Association spoke out against the dismissal of the Director of the Writers’ House, Ms. Nata Lomouri, and the appointment of Ms. Ketevan Dumbadze in her place. They declared disobedience to the policy of the Ministry, which according to them is undemocratic, sovietic and anti-state in nature. Besides, it was unacceptable to them that Ms. Ketevan Dumbadze was a member of a party that voted for the “Russian Law” against the will of the Georgian society.

The Association unites around 80% of all the registered in Georgia book publishers. It makes a significant contribution to the development of the book sector in the country and its representation at the international and national level, to freedom of publishing and copyright protection, to supporting the participation of Georgian publishers and booksellers in thematic festivals, etc.

In view of the said circumstances, “The Association’s Board reached a decision that it wouldn’t organize the national stand together with the Writers’ House, and the latter had neither enough time, nor the competence to participate in the Frankfurt Book Fair”, narrated to us Mr. Toresa Mossy, who took part in these events.

However, with the support of large publishing houses and the Civil Society Foundation, with the participation of the Pen Center of Georgia and the activity of proponents of censorship-free literature, the national Georgian stand was nonetheless organized at the Frankfurt Book Fair, independently of the Writ

ers’ House and it very overtly demonstrated the problems our country is facing for the time being. This stand was open not only to large or boycooting publishers, but also to those who wanted to participate, present translations, or had an event planned.

Independent Georgian character – was a concept with which our country was presented at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2023. “In Frankfurt, they say that Georgia was the best host of the Fair in 2018 – and this was the result of an inclusive preparatory process that involved everyone, and which served the national interests. We couldn’t disappoint this expectation. It’s very important to prevent such conflicts and present culture in its entirety at such events, but this cannot be done at the expense of betraying principles”, notes Mr. Toresa Mossy, who participated in the organization of the independent stand.