Voices from Taiwan. Polish authors after the Taipei International Book Exhibition

The Taipei International Book Exhibition came to an end on 5th February, but the echoes of one of Asia's largest book fairs, at which Poland acted as Guest of Honour this year, still reverberate.

The Polish authors present in Taipei were wonderfully received by the public. All the meetings and events attracted a lot of interest. We decided to ask them about their impressions of Taiwan.

Poet Marzanna Bogumiła Kielar, who took part in the discussion "Poland - a country of poets?" particularly highlights how incredibly popular the poetry discussions were in Taiwan:

“To me, as an author, the Taipei International Book Exibition was an intense event. The meetings, panel discussions, and presentations of Polish poetry really attracted crowds of readers. I am extremely encouraged by this, as poetry has a much smaller audience in Europe. Polish literature and book illustration were highly visible at the fair. The programme was thoughtful, varied, interactive, and rich. I was particularly enthralled by the publishing masterpieces of the Manuscriptum Publishing House.”

The latter could be found at a stand prepared by the Book Institute together with the Polish Office in Taipei. A wide audience was also attracted by a walk in Daan Park with Stanisław Łubieński, which you can read more about on Łubieński's blog “Dzika Ochota”.

“I am very pleased with the trip to the Taipei Fair. The Taiwanese publisher of my book fortunately did not overload me with responsibilities, and I had some free time in addition to the meetings. As for the fair - I can only compare it to the Warsaw fair, which I associate with chaos and terrible crowding. Here, everything was logical, spacious, and orderly despite the high attendance at the meetings with authors. Events started and ended on time, with the organisers keeping an eye on everything. I hope to have the opportunity to return there for the promotion of the next book to be published there this year”

the author of Dwanaście srok za ogon (“The Birds They Sang, Birds & People in Life and Art”) summarised the International Book Exhibition. 

Children's book authors Marianna Oklejak and Piotr Socha also provided their comments about the fair on their social media.

“I came back very satisfied from the International Book Fair in Taipei, Taiwan, where Poland was the Guest of Honour. I was honoured to be part of the Polish export team among such authors and creators as Andrzej Sapkowski, Marzanna Kielar, Stanisław Łubieński, Witold Szabłowski, Bartosz Sztybor, Rafał Kosik, and Piotr Socha. High praise for the gigantic work done by the sensational team of the Book Institute and the Polish Office in Taipei. I am very grateful to the people whose company and help I received during my stay”

Marianna Oklejak wrote on Facebook.

In turn, Piotr Socha summarised the event this way:

”My Taiwanese adventure would not have happened if Global Kids Books publishing house had not published Pszczoły (“The book of Bees”) and Drzewa (“The book of Trees”) here, and the Polish Book Institute had not invited me to participate in the Taipei Book Fair, where Poland was this year's Guest of Honour. My sincere thanks to everyone who organised this event and invited me to participate. There were more of us there as part of the Polish delegation: Andrzej Sapkowski, Marianna Oklejak, Marzanna Kielar, Witek Szabłowski, Staszek Łubieński, Bartosz Sztybor, Rafał Kosik, and the excellent Polish-Ukrainian band Dagadana. If I have left anyone out, I apologise. The books by the above-mentioned authors were translated into Mandarin, i.e. Classical Chinese (as there is also Simplified Chinese, which is spoken by the people of the Middle Kingdom). Global Kids Books organised my meetings at the fair and outside the fair. Around half a million people visited the fair. Terrific.”

Rafał Kosik also made no secret of his satisfaction with his visit to Taipei:

”For me as a writer, such a trip has added value. After all, contact with another culture is inspiration, fuel for future creativity. My latest book is set in south-east Asia, which I got to know through my many travels. One of the more important trips took place on the occasion of a visit to the Beijing Book Fair, where we also benefited from the support of the Book Institute. We won't know what the tangible effects of Taipei will be until a few months at the earliest, but I can already say that I consider this trip to have been a success. Relationships with foreign publishers and agents are built slowly and usually take a long time to bear fruit. Certainly, without the cooperation of the Book Institute, this would have been very difficult or even impossible.”

The Taipei International Book Exhibition began on 31 January and ended on 5 February. The main organisers of the Polish presentation were the Book Institute and the Polish Office in Taipei. They were partnered by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, the National Library, the Pilecki Institute, and the International Cultural Centre. The International Book Exhibition in Taipei is part of the strategy pursued by the Book Institute, the aim of which is to have a sustained, distinct presence of Polish literature in places where up to now Polish books have not been available or have been insufficiently available.