Seoul Book Fair to spotlight French, Italian writers

By Rumy Doo
  • Published : Jun 8, 2016 - 16:11
  • Updated : Jun 8, 2016 - 17:21

This year’s Seoul International Book Fair, set to take place next week at Coex Convention & Exhibition Center in Seoul will highlight French and Italian books, the annual book fair organizers said at a press conference Wednesday.

France, invited as the “Culture Focus” country, will introduce a new generation of French writers, said Anthony Chaumuzeau, director of the French Institute in Seoul.

From left: French writer Antoine Laurain (Philippe Matsas/Seoul International Book Fair), French cook and author Antoine Schaefers and French journalist and author Sebastien Falleti (Seoul International Book Fair)

The three French writers set to participate in SIBF are: Antoine Laurain, whose 2012 novel “The President’s Hat” and 2014 novel “The Red Notebook” are set to be translated into Korean soon; Antoine Scahefers, a chef and best-selling cookbook author who is also readying to open a culinary school in Korea; and Sebastian Falleti, a Le Figaro correspondent formerly based in Korea who coauthored “North Korea: The Nine-Year Escape from Hell,” which traces the story of a North Korean defector.

Following its invitation as the “Honor Country” last year, Italy this year will be featured as the fair’s “Spotlight Country,” organizers said.

Italian authors participating in the fair include Pierdomenico Baccalario, who wrote the “Ulysses Moore” young adult novel series, and Elena Peducci, whose “Milly Merletti” children’s book series have been published here since 2013.

To mark the upcoming Korean publication of famed Italian writer Giorgio Bassani’s works, Catholic University of Daegu professor Kim Woon-chan, a protege of Umberto Eco, will host a lecture on his late teacher.

A total of 20 countries will be participating in the fair through 346 publishing-related groups. 

Writer Jo Seong-ja speaks to audiences at the 2015 Seoul International Book Fair. (Seoul International Book Fair)

Translator Deborah Smith, joint winner of the Man Booker International Prize for her translation of Han Kang’s novel “The Vegetarian,” and Emanuel Pastreich, an American academic and author of the 2013 book “A Different Republic of Korea - About Which Only Koreans are Ignorant,” will be participating in discussions hosted by the book fair.

American book cover designer John Gall will also be giving a talk, as part of the festival’s focus on book design this year.

SIBF seeks to converge the digital and paper book markets this year, collaborating for the first time with Digital Book Fair Korea, which focuses on the e-book industry. The third edition of the digital book fair will take place simultaneously next week at Coex.

This year’s fair boasts a program packed with lectures and events, but the organizers admitted that the local publishing industry is not fully represented at the event.

“A significant number of publishers were unable to participate,” said Ko Young-soo, president of the Korean Publishers Association, the fair organizer. “The publishing market is in a bigger slump than ever. Especially struggling are the medium-sized publishers that used to be the pillars of the Korean publishing industry.”

Visitors read at the exhibition hall at the 2015 Seoul International Book Fair. (Seoul International Book Fair)

The 22nd edition of the Seoul International Book Fair will take place June 15-19 at Coex Convention & Exhibition Center. The fair’s full schedule is available at

By Rumy Doo (