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A Controversial Homage to Catalonia: Commerce Replaces Politics at the Frankfurt Book Fair - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News

Catalonia is a controversial choice for guest of honor at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair. The changing emphasis in choosing the annual guest of honor mirrors the way the show has changed over the years -- and not necessarily for the better.

 Catalonia is this year's guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The Frankfurt Book Fair is all about bringing the international publishing world together. The guest of honor, usually a country or region, plays a special role in furthering that idea, serving as a forum for interaction among countries, cultural regions and linguistic regions, as well as facilitating negotiations in the sale of publishing rights. Experts agree that a guest of honor's presence at the fair is an important economic factor.

Nevertheless, the relevance of the concept has been questioned time and again in recent years. Is it still a vibrant discussion platform, or has it degenerated into an opportunity for touristic navel-gazing and an uncritical opportunity for self-promotion?

The debate is especially heated over this year's choice of Catalonia as the guest of honor, a small linguistic region with controversial cultural policies. The areas where Catalan is spoken include Catalonia itself, the Balearic Islands, Valencia, the tiny principality of Andorra, a few towns in Spain's Aragon region, and the community of L'Alguer on the Italian island of Sardinia.

by Fran on Tue Oct 9th, 2007 at 11:42:54 PM EST
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