Kai Kang, Journalist China Reading Weekly
A fair is a fair
What a great opportunity to learn about the Dutch literature for Chinese readers! Our Guest of Honor showed their theme “open landscape, open book” very well at the opening day of the fair, even better than I expected.
A fair is a fair, not a festival. So all these things weren’t unfair at such a fair.
In the marvelous Dutch pavilion, I really enjoyed the beautiful books and the conversations with the prominent writers. I was invited to moderate a discussion between the geologist Salomon Kroonenberg and the theoretical physicist Sander Bais. It was a big challenge for me. But I survived at last.
There is no doubt that Chinese media are enthusiastic, especially for Princess Laurentien. Many reports put her name into their titles, and a paper highlighted her “orange dress.” 1 But someone worried that the New China International Exhibition Center’s distant location would discourage the ordinary readers. “The media and exhibitors kept complaining about going to visit the New CIEC in Shunyi was comparable with a trip to Tianjin.”2 Said Shanghai’s Oriental Morning Post today. As if you’d hold an Amsterdam Book fair in The Hague.
Perhaps it is a problem. Last morning, while driving to the fair from my office downtown, I found the New CIEC was not existing at all in my GPS. It was too new to be located. It’s not even signposted on the roads. I had to pull over several times to ask farmers for directions. I regretted. I should take trains.
A book fair is supposed for the “professionals” - publishers, editors and literary agents, rather than the general public. At noon, the broadcasting system in the halls asked the ordinary visitors to leave. Mr. Zhang, a famous Chinese photographer and my friend, was blocked outside. Around 4 pm, once again, the broadcaster announced that all ordinary people must leave. Then security guards appeared, stall by stall, politely, persuading the audience out.
A fair is a fair, not a festival. So all these things weren’t unfair at such a fair. We sell or buy the copyrights on the table, not the copies in the store. I saw many great Dutch novels were displayed on the shelves, such as De uitvreter, Titaantjes, Dichtertje of Nescio, and Tirza of Arnon Grunberg, whose portrait was on the cover of the latest issue of World Literature, a famous Chinese magazine. I really hope they could be recognized, bought and published by Chinese publishers as soon as possible.
But in this vast pavilion, somebody seemed invisible. Where is Ayaan Hirsi Ali?