The World’s Biggest Book Fair Opens This Week

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This weekend, the Frankfurter Buchmesse, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, will welcome some 300,000 visitors and over 7,000 authors and exhibitors from more than 100 countries to what’s become a sort of Lollapalooza for the literati.

The five-day event, which lasts from October 19 to October 23—only open Saturday and Sunday to the public—features an assortment of readings, signings and exhibitions from the future Hemingways across the world.

Highlights for this year include the “Gourmet Gallery,” promoting some 1,000 cookbooks, perhaps with some taste-testing. Also, the fest’s “Weltempfang”—the fair’s primary discussions—will tackle the loaded topic of Europe, with writers wrestling with “Europe and Islam,” “Civilizations and Migrations,” “Communication and the Internet” and “Open Society and the Beneficiaries of Fear.”

This year’s “Guest of Honor” is the Netherlands and Flanders (not Ned), with more than 400 Dutch-speaking authors presenting their stories, poems and secret pancake recipes—probably.

The 500-year-old event, which—mind you—began shortly after Gutenberg invented the printing press, is a critical launching point for innumerable global writers and publishers. It’s also the launching point for the annual Diagram Prize, which awards the oddest book title of the year. Last year’s winner, Too Naked for Nazis, will face some stiff competition with titles like Reading from Behind: A Cultural History of the Anus, Soviet Bus Stops and, a personal favorite, Transvestite Vampire Biker Nuns from Outer Space.

Tom is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? but with more sunscreen and jorts.

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