Taipei book expo to focus on France, with Ukraine nod

Organizers of the upcoming Taipei International Book Exhibition said on Thursday that France has been selected as the fair’s theme for the fourth time, and is to prominently feature renowned authors and titles from the country.

The announcement came from exhibition organizers, the Ministry of Culture (MOC) and the Taipei Book Fair Foundation at a news conference.

The event, set to open on Thursday, will carry the slogan: “I read, therefore I am,” a play on French philosopher Rene Descartes’ famous quote: “I think, therefore I am.”

Photo: CNA

The media event was also attended by Bureau Francais de Taiwan’s Head of Culture, University Cooperation and Education David Kibler, along with European Economic and Trade Office in Taiwan Director Filip Grzegorzewski.

Kibler said he hopes reading can give people the comfort they need in a post-pandemic world.

The exhibition’s keynote speeches are to focus on audiobooks, while French creative studio Small Bang is to introduce a new style of comic book that includes interactive experiences, the organizers said.

Handwritten manuscripts from literary greats such as George Sand, Marcel Proust and Victor Hugo are to be on display, on loan from private collectors and the Francois-Mitterrand Library.

The works of contemporary French writers are also to be highlighted, including Chantal Thomas, Pierre Lemaitre and Eric Faye.

Ukraine will also share some of the spotlight in a special section called “We Stand with Ukraine,” which will display the works of 15 Ukrainian illustrators, reflecting their experiences and feelings during the Russian invasion.

Valentina Butenko, an international market development executive at Yakaboo, an online Ukrainian bookstore, is scheduled to lead talks on how the country’s culture and national identity are reflected in Ukraine’s literature.

Butenko thanked the MOC for helping to make arrangements for a Ukrainian delegation to attend the fair, even though the war prevented such an effort from happening.

However, the war prevented such plans, but she will do her best to represent different views through discussions and the books she brought with her, she said.

Deputy Minister of Culture Lee Ching-hwi (李靜慧) said that the ministry invited Butenko after Minister of Culture Lee Yung-te (李永得) read about how she left her studies in the UK to return home before the war and joined Yakaboo to promote Ukraine to the world.

The story was published by the Central News Agency, which was contacted to help bring her to Taiwan, Lee Ching-hwi said.

The 30th Taipei International Book Exhibition is the first to be held physically after two years of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The event is scheduled from Thursday to Tuesday next week at Exhibition Hall 1 of the Taipei World Trade Center.

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