Online energy builds ahead of New Zealand's big book gig in Frankfurt

by Toby Manhire / 12 April, 2012
As a new series of films shows, NZ artists are already all over Berlin. And this year, our writers are bound for the Frankfurt Book Fair.

The Frankfurt Book Fair is far the biggest, most famous and most important event of its type, and so the selection of New Zealand as the 2012 Guest of Honour is, or should be, headline news.

Wouldn’t it be good to see New Zealand’s tourism minister, John “we still need [literary] role models to inspire us” Key make a personal appearance at the fair?

In the leadup to the October fair, various online activity is bubbling away.

While You Were Sleeping is the official site (“While You Were Sleeping in the Northern Hemisphere we've been writing books, shooting films, growing wine and creating cuisine during the Southern Hemisphere's daylight hours,” explains the site, conveniently overlooking those of us with more nocturnal habits), which sports the video above.

NZ at Frankfurt also offers a Twitter feed and a Facebook page.

Blogging on the While You Were Sleeping site is Leon Joskowitz. He is tasked with the arduous challenge of “travelling around New Zealand, gathering inspiration for the culinary delights he will prepare for the New Zealand Wine Culinary Festival pop-up kitchens in Frankfurt”. Poor fellow. In his latest post he “sings the praises of southern New Zealand”.

In similar vein, German novelist Inka Parei is spending six weeks exploring New Zealand in a campervan, and recording her experiences in a blog for the Goethe-Institut, which appears in German, English and Te Reo. Her latest entry, headed “Jackson Bay”, is so far only in German, frustratingly.

The best post so far appeared a month and a bit ago. A few days after her arrival in the country, Parei goes to Moeraki, where she is met by the magnificent Keri Hulme.

She writes:

We spend a long time talking in great detail about the weather ... Although I’ve got more used to New Zealand English since we’ve been here, I find it hard to understand her.

I’d like to think she’s talking about the whitebait season.

I get the impression she doesn’t really want to talk at all – which I find very likeable.

Welcome to New Zealand.

On the broader theme of New Zealand artists in Germany, I heartily recommend to you Broke But Sexy, a series of short films by Julie Hill and Gaby Lingke - another Goethe-Institut-supported project - about NZ cultural types living and working in Berlin, among them musician Ladi6, painter Judy Millar and poet Kate Camp. Ist gut.
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