Frankfurt Undercover


"How to challenge extremist propaganda? What makes individuals turn to extremist ideologies? What practical solutions can challenge fundamentalism of all kinds—religious, political, economic—and how can we build multicultural communities that truly function?

These are among the questions that will be raised at the second presentation by Frankfurt Undercover: the umbrella name for the unusual initiative spearheaded by Danish writer Janne Teller which brings together international authors to debate political questions to see what insights writers have regarding some of the most difficult questions of the modern world.

It began last year with the enthusiastic support of FBF. Its director Jürgen Boos will join Teller on stage today. Some 40 authors are involved from 30 different countries, with Teller explaining: “Ever since I first participated in the fair in 2010, it struck me how there was this immense resource of some of the most interesting and creative literary minds from the whole world, all present in one place—yet it was being put to no wider good than the promotion of their own books.

“So the insights that each writer has obtained from working constantly on various aspects of the human condition, from all different countries, cultures and personal angles, simply came and left Frankfurt with the individual authors themselves. I was convinced that fiction writers would have some new inputs to give to the political world. I imagined something like a ‘mini Davos’—just not for money and power, but for intellect and creativity.”

The discussions will continue under the theme begun last year—Border and Barriers, Culture and Crossroads—with a particular focus on challenging extremism. If last year’s (far smaller) meeting is anything to go by, it promises to be a fascinating, even inspiring session. “The whole basis of the Frankfurt Undercover debates is that we don’t have to agree on a text or statement,” says Teller. “Rather, all the new or interesting ideas to address the issues we’re discussing will be included in a Compendium of Ideas, even if they’re contradictory. I believe that very different solutions and policies may be needed to address the same problem at different times and in different countries. Thus our list of proposals should hopefully offer an input to some widely varied geopolitical and cultural circumstances.”  The Bookseller


Frankfurt Bookfair: