What saves Frankfurt for me in the end is the rest of the world. The British and the Americans occupy Hall 8, but Hall 6 and Hall 5, I discover, are distinctly more interesting. Nobody in Georgia or the Faroes Islands or Ukraine or Iraqi Kurdistan is attempting to publish yet another rip-off of The Dangerous Book for Boys. Nor is Jordan riding high in the fiction charts.I want that explorer's sack with those little books in it! Or perhaps more to the point, I want to write something like that myself! Hmmm, must ponder this one--I am just bursting with energy this morning, rather mysterious...
And while foreign buyers snap up British and American novels and translate them, we don't return the favour. Doesn't it frustrate you? I ask a woman in the Netherlands stand. 'Frustrate me? No. I just think it is a problem for you, that you see so little of the world.'
Tina Mamulashvili, a publisher in Tbilisi, shows me the works of Georgia's bestselling author, Aka Morchiladze.
'How many do you have to sell to be a bestseller in Georgia?' I ask
'If you sell 2,000 or more you are really successful. The average print run for fiction is 500 copies.'
'Five hundred copies!' I say.
And then she shows me a copy of Morchiladze's Santa Esperanza and it's a wonderfully inventive thing - a tiny explorer's sack containing 36 booklets and a map of a fantasy island in the Black Sea 'which is populated by Georgians, Turks, Italians and British'.
(Here by the way were my thoughts on Cadwalladr's wonderfully appealing novel The Family Tree...)