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Frankfurt book fair closes

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BERLIN, Oct 23 (AFP) - The 57th Frankfurt book fair closed on Sunday after seeing Germany's biggest literary prize go to Turkish author Orhan Pamuk and attracting 280,000 visitors, organisers said.

The visitor figure is an increase of 10,000 people over last year, fair spokesman Holger Ehling said, although it did not top the 2003 record of 300, 000 people.

The fair, the biggest of its kind in the world and a vital business event for authors and publishers, experienced a rush on Sunday as books went on sale in the exhibition halls, he added.

Pamuk, the author of novels including "Snow" and "My Name Is Red", on Sunday became the 56th author to win the German book trade's peace prize, which is awarded on the sidelines of the fair and earns the winner 25,000 euros (29,800 dollars).

He risks a jail sentence of up to three years in Turkey after angering the authorities by telling a Swiss newspaper that "one million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it."

The massacre of Armenians during World War I is still hugely controversial in Turkey, while Armenians also say that up to 1.5 million of their kinsmen died in orchestrated killings in the last years of the Ottoman Empire, the precursor of modern Turkey.

Accepting his award on Sunday, Pamuk said that political engagement was a normal part of being a novelist.

The director of the book fair, Juergen Boos, agreed with him in his closing address, telling visitors: "Books are always political."

Some 1,000 authors attended the fair this year, including feminist writer Margaret Atwood, Dutch poet and novelist Cees Nooteboom and the creater of the Asterix comics, Albert Uderzo.

Novelists Nick Hornsby and A.L. Kennedy both launched stinging attacks on the British government, with the latter saying she is writing a new book inspired by the war in Iraq.

The guest of honour of the book fair this year was the Korean peninsula, but while some 40 authors from South Korea came to the fair, communist North Korea declined the invitation.

Ehling said that the Korean exhibition hall alone attracted 25,000 visitors since the fair was opened officially on Tuesday night by South Korean Prime Minister Lee Hae-Chan.

The guest of honour next year will be India, followed in 2007 by Spain's northeastern Catalonia region.

The organisers of the fair announced that in June 2006 a splinter event will be held in Cape Town in order to create a new book fair for Africa, since the one in Zimbabwe has become a victim of the country's political crisis.



COPYRIGHT 2005 Agence France-Presse. All rights reserved.

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