Saturday, October 24, 2009

Frankfurt was a wonderful experience

By Shevlin Sebastian

Photo: Sr. Jesme during the reading at the Frankfurt Book Fair

Sr. Jesme, the author of the best-selling autobiography, ‘Amen’ has returned after participating in the Frankfurt Book Fair, which is regarded as the world’s largest and most prestigious book festival.

She stayed at the Hotel Reuterhof at Darmstadt and commuted every day by train to Frankfurt, a distance of 21 kms. At the fair, India had 42 stalls, while DC Books were the only representative from Kerala. In all 95 countries took part.

For the reading of ‘Amen’, Sr. Jesme began with a brief segment in Malayalam, before reading several extracts from the English version.

“There was a good gathering,” says DC Books Publisher Ravi Deecee. The audience comprised mostly French and German people, apart from a sprinkling of Indians. There was a cafĂ© nearby and all the patrons were listening in.

“The most unusual aspect about the fair was how people seem to want to drink and eat and listen at the same time,” says Sr. Jesme.

Following the reading, the questions began: why didn’t Sr. Jesme leave the convent earlier? Will her book encourage other nuns to leave? What was the reaction of the church?

An Indian priest, who did not identify himself, said, “When you join the military or the police, you have to obey the rules. The same is the case with the convent. Why are you against the law?”

Sr. Jesme replied, “I respect law and order. However, I am against the interpretation of the rules that go against the spirit of the Bible and Jesus Christ.”

At the conclusion, a group of women came up to Sr. Jesme and shook her hand. Among them was Prof. Dr. Adelheid Herrmann-Pfandt, who teaches comparative religion at Philipps University, Marburg.

“I liked the reading,” she says. “Sr. Jesme is a powerful and courageous woman. I hope she will be able to carry on telling the truth about what is wrong in the Church. It is admirable that she has not lost her religious faith despite all her troubles.”

Later, Sr. Jesme was able to visit Heidelberg, which is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. "Overall, it was a wonderful experience," she says.

The publisher was also very happy. “All the copies of ‘Amen’, which we had brought to the fair, were sold out,” says Ravi Deecee. “Several European publishers have expressed an interest in the book.”

(The New Indian Express, Kochi)

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