FRANKFURT (Reuters Life!) - The Frankfurt Book Fair has chosen to venture down a less controversial path in its choice of honored guest next year, picking Argentina after sparking debates with its past two nominees Turkey and China.
"For a guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair, this is unusual, for we commonly deal with undiscovered literature," Juergen Boos, president of the Frankfurt Book Fair told a press conference on Thursday.
The decision to invite China as the honored guest this year has stirred much controversy because of China's human rights record, censorship and state-controlled publishing.
Last year's choice Turkey also caused a stir because of Turkey's long tradition of limiting free speech.
But next year the focus is likely to be more on literature than politics.
"In the case of Argentina, there is no lack of afficionados, lovers of Argentinian literature," Boss said.
"Argentina's place is occupied by memories even before we get to take a look at the country," he added.
Boss conjured up images of tango as well of the "violent history of the military junta" and "of course, Diego Maradona, Che Guevara, and Evita Peron."
Boss also mentioned writers such as Jorge Luis Borges and Julio Cortazar and that Argentina, the third Latin American country to theme the trade show, had a long tradition of comics.
In 1976, the literature of Latin America was chosen as the first guest of honor in Frankurt and Argentina will be the third guest honored from the region after Mexico in 1992 and Brazil in 1994.
"The year 2010 will be a very significant and symbolic date for my country as we will be celebrating our bicentenary," Victorio Taccetti, Argentina's deputy foreign minister said.
"Almost two centuries ago, in 1810, Argentina along with other Latin American countries such as Mexico, Chile and Colombia, began an emancipation process that led to its declaration of independence."
Buenos Aires will be the world capital of books in 2011.
Reporting by Eva Kuehnen, editing by Paul Casciato