Friday, 11 April 2014

Incheon in London

World Book Capital is a title bestowed by UNESCO annually to a city in recognition of the quality of its programmes to promote books and reading.  

Incheon will be the UNESCO World Book Capital next year, so the city is exhibiting in the Korea Market Focus Pavilion at the London Book Fair to spread the word that it is preparing a variety of events to entertain the many visitors it expects from all over the world.

Mayor of Incheon, Young-Gil Song says: "Our city will spare no efforts to turn itself into an educational and cultural city by sharing culture through books and narrowing cultural gaps through latest technologies, which echoes UNESCO's ideology." 

Amongst other reasons, UNESCO runs the World Book Capital initiative to promote exchanges across borders and ideologies. Incheon is geographically well positioned to facilitate cultural exchange with North Korea. A spokesperson for the Korean Publishers Association says that having Incheon as the World Book Capital in 2015 will: “promote Korean citizens' cultural development and awareness, and connect with North Korea providing a foundation for the re-unification of the South with the North. Also, it will be a central city of international cultural exchange via books, and will continuously contribute to the global community even after this event.”

Incheon hopes to use its status as World Book Capital to demonstrate how a city's industrial and technological infrastructure can contribute to society.  Mayor Young-Gil Song says: “Incheon has some people who are isolated from cultural access and information as some people live on islands far away from the mainland, or due to other environmental reasons. Hence, the city has been managing a various number of cultural businesses such as the mobile library, which visits each island, and the Reading Incheon mobile application, which enables the 2.9 million citizens of Incheon to get access to an online library via their mobile telephone.”

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Published Today: The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World by T.V. Paul

The Warrior State: Pakistan in the Contemporary World by T.V. Paul, James McGill Professor of International Relations, McGill University, is published today. 

In 2013 Pakistan ranked 133rd out of 148 countries in global competitiveness. Currently, Taliban forces occupy nearly 30% of the country, and it is perpetually in danger of becoming a failed state - with over a hundred nuclear weapons that could easily fall into terrorists’ hands. In recent years, many countries across the developing world have experienced impressive economic growth and have evolved into at least partially democratic states with militaries under civilian control. Yet Pakistan, a heavily militarized nation, has been a conspicuous failure. Its economy is in shambles, propped up by international aid, and its political system is notoriously corrupt and unresponsive, although a civilian government has come to power. Despite the regime's emphasis on security, the country is beset by widespread violence and terrorism. What explains Pakistan's unique inability to progress? Paul argues that the geostrategic curse - akin to the resource curse that plagues oil rich autocracies - is the main cause. Since its founding in 1947, Pakistan has been at the centre of major geopolitical struggles - the US-Soviet rivalry, the conflict with India, and most recently the post 9/11 wars. No matter how ineffective the regime, massive foreign aid keeps pouring in from major powers and their allies with a stake in the region. The reliability of such aid defuses any pressure on political elites to launch far-reaching domestic reforms that would promote sustained growth, higher standards of living, and more stable democratic institutions. Paul shows that excessive war-making efforts have drained Pakistan’s limited economic resources without making the country safer or more stable. The book offers a comprehensive treatment of Pakistan’s insecurity predicament. It also compares Pakistan with other national security states, Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia, Taiwan and Korea. 

T.V. Paul is a leading scholar of international security, regional security, and South Asia. His books include: Globalization and the National Security State (co-authored, Oxford University Press, 2010); India in the World Order: Searching for Major Power Status (co-authored, Cambridge University Press 2002); The India-Pakistan Conflict: An Enduring Rivalry (Cambridge University Press, 2005); and South Asia’s Weak States: Understanding the Regional Insecurity Predicament (Stanford University Press 2010).

The Warrior State is published by OUP in hardback, priced in local currencies.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Malaysian publisher Fixi wins big in London

The winners of The London Book Fair International Book Industry Excellence Awards, in association with The Publishers Association, have been announced at a prestigious Awards ceremony held on the first day of The London Book Fair.

The Awards provide recognition from the UK for the best companies and individuals from across the international publishing industry, as such UK companies are not eligible for the majority of categories.

The line-up of winners was truly global with Belorussia, Pakistan, India, Denmark, Australia, Malaysia, the US and China all coming up trumps.

The US publishing industry led the pack with three winners including the University of Chicago Press in the Academic and Professional category, The Best Translated Book Award won in Literary Translation Initiatives category and Robert Kirkman who created Walking Dead won for the best use of IP. The evening saw a real coup for Fixi, the Malaysian publisher, who picked up The Bookseller International Adult Trade Publisher Award despite having set up only three years ago. They have gained a great reputation at breakneck speed including snapping up huge authors for their translation list.

Jacks Thomas, Director, The London Book Fair, said: “In the course of our preparation for The London Book Fair, my team and I are lucky enough to meet so many inspirational individuals and learn about fascinating initiatives from publishing companies around the world. So it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate the best international talent at our Awards. From new companies like Fixi in Malaysia to publishing stalwarts like renowned Danish agent, Anneli Høier, the winners tonight provide a fascinating showcase for international publishing.”

Richard Mollet, Chief Executive, The UK Publishers Association, said: “The London Book Fair is the perfect location to celebrate the achievements of international publishing and the range of talent on display across the industry. Around the world, publishers are innovating and developing new ideas of how and what publishing could and will look like in the future and these awards are a great opportunity to demonstrate our success as an industry.”

Cortina Butler, Director Literature, British Council, said: “We are delighted that the winning organisations and individuals in this inaugural awards demonstrate the exciting creative entrepreneurship in today’s international publishing industry and the continuing impact of The London Book Fair Market Focus programme.”

Korea Cultural Programme at the London Book Fair

See the previous blog post for an overview of the Korea Market Focus at the London Book Fair.  See here for an update of how it went on day 1. 

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

British Council Korea Cultural Programme / London Book Fair

The London Book Fair, one of the world’s most important marketplaces for publishers, starts today, March 8.  Each year, the Market Focus initiative puts the spotlight on links with a specified country or region, highlighting its publishing industry, and the opportunities for conducting book-related business between it and the rest of the world.

This year, Korea is being showcased. This reflects the country’s status as one of the top ten publishing markets in the world, and its expanding reputation within the international literary community, as exemplified by Kyung-sook Shin’s winning the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2011, with Please Look After Mom.

In conjunction with each year’s Market Focus, The British Council runs a cultural programme, to promote exchange between the chosen country’s writers and UK readers, writers, translators and editors. The Korean Cultural Programme, curated in partnership with The Literature Translation Institute of Korea (LTI Korea), will see ten of Korea’s most exciting writers, representing the depth and range of the country’s contemporary literature, involved in events in London, and across the UK.

Last November, in preparation for the Korean Cultural Programme, The British Council and LTI Korea, sponsored 6 UK literary editors to travel to Korea for a scoping and study trip.

Mary Doherty, The British Council’s spokesperson for the Korean Cultural Programme, answered my questions via e-mail.

Republic of Korea (South Korea) is the chosen country. Will North Korea feature at all? 

All the participating writers are from South Korea. However, while literature from North Korea will not be specifically explored, the writers are likely to talk about how the shared history and modern politics of the Korean peninsula influences their writing.

What was achieved by the editors’ trip to Korea? Have any of the participating editors since bought English language rights to Korean books for publication in Britain?  Have any such titles yet appeared in bookshops?

Six editors visited Seoul: Maria Rejt from Mantle (Macmillan), Laura Deacon (Blue Door/HarperCollins), Paul Engles (MacLehose/Quercus), Daniel Seton (Pushkin Press), Katie Slade (Comma Press) and Stefan Tobler (And Other Stories). We were very pleased to have a mix of representatives of larger and more specialist publishing houses in the UK who regularly publish fiction in translation. They met authors, editors, translators and publishers and made very exciting connections. We expect that they will follow up during the London Book Fair – it is too soon for books to be appearing yet.

Has there been a similar programme for Korean editors visiting Britain?  If so, how did it go and what were the results?

We organised a study trip for senior representatives of different parts of the Korean literature sector in the UK in October last year. All the literature professionals visited Edinburgh and Norwich as well as London and our programme was designed to introduce them to as many aspects of the British literature scene as possible including publishers, reader development organisations, arts and live literature venues and bookshops. We expect to see the results in the form of increased exchange of authors and books between Korea and the UK over the next months and years. Already, Fiction Uncovered has begun a partnership with Toji Cultural Foundation to bring UK writers to Korea to participate in residencies.

How and why were the guest Korean novelists selected?

The British Council and LTI Korea chose the writers for their artistic excellence and diversity, after wide consultation with partners, writers, readers and literature experts in both South Korea and the UK in order to find a selection that best represents the range of contemporary writing from South Korea. The group includes novelists and writers of poetry, graphic novels, short stories and children’s books, both established and emerging.

How have British writers responded to the opportunity to meet with their Korean counterparts?

We organised visits by three British writers to Korea last autumn and they were all excited by the opportunity to meet with Korean authors. The children’s writers Tim Bowler and Julia Golding visited the Paju Booksori and WOW Literary festivals in October 2013. Scottish author Kerry Hudson then spent a month in residencies in Korea, first in a traditional community in Gongju and then at Seoul Art Space -Yeonhui. Reciprocal residencies have been arranged for the authors Suah Bae and Kim Aeran who will be spending twelve weeks in the UK’s two UNESCO Cities of Literature, Norwich and Edinburgh respectively, in the spring and summer of 2014.

How have British publishers responded to the opportunity to meet Korean publishers? Are they more concerned with selling rights to the Koreans, than buying rights from them?

We had more applications for the editors’ trip than we had places and we understand that the diaries of Korean publishers visiting London are filling up with meetings where they might sell rights. Certainly those editors who travelled to Seoul in November came back with a real enthusiasm for buying rights to Korean works.

Do you have any events just for booksellers? Do you think booksellers will be supportive of Korean literature in translation in Britain? 

All the evening events are open to everyone, including booksellers, and will give an insight in to the breadth and depth of Korean writing. Because of its history and geographical position, Korea is a country that interests many people – even those who do not usually buy literature in translation. Modern Korean literature is window on contemporary Korean society and the recent past and it deserves to take its place with other novels in translation.

What do you hope the Korean cultural focus will achieve?

The Cultural Programme will do much to open doors, creating cultural connections and promoting greater understanding of the UK in South Korea and of South Korea in the UK. We know from previous cultural programmes we’ve run that many organisations and individuals will make the most of the opportunities we’ll present to develop longer-term partnerships between the UK and South Korea. 

The British Council’s Arts programme in South Korea is facilitating new ways for people in the UK and South Korea to connect and understand each other and share skills and innovations.  Our projects are designed collaboratively with partners, and in response to needs and opportunities in both countries.  This coming year we will be working with partners across South Korea and the UK on exciting projects to bring together writers and professionals through exchanges, festivals and professional development activities

Browse the Project

These are the ten writers featured in the Korean Cultural Programme.  Click on the names to check out the links.

·       Kim Insuk
·       Yoon Tae-ho
·       Hwang Sun-mi
·       Kim Young-ha
·       Yi Mun-yol
·       Hwang Sok-yong
·       Han Kang
·       Lee Seung-U
·       Kim Hyesoon
    Kyung-sook Shin