My Frankfurt Book Fair: Robert Caskie

My Frankfurt Book Fair: Robert Caskie

Robert Caskie established Robert Caskie Ltd in April this year. He co-founded Caskie Mushens in 2017, after previous roles as senior agent and chief operating officer at PFD.

The literary agent reckons any online equivalent will struggle to live up to the physical book fair—if he can get logged in to check—and says the best table at Frankfurt is always the closest one to hand. He talked to Tom Tivnan.

My first Frankfurt was so far back in the mists of time that there were no mobile phones, internet, emails or social media. Everyone was running around weighed down by manuscripts—that’s paper manu- scripts!—reading in corridors and stairways. And drinking and smoking during the day without guilt or shame. Such decadence...

I will genuinely miss not going to this year’s FBF; I have had one of the most circuitous, stop-start careers in publishing, so to see that sign saying Robert Caskie Limited in the agents’ centre would have been sweet. Like Peggy Mitchell at the Old Vic....

There are a lot of international publishers I enjoy seeing, but also people from home. Some people really take on a different persona at the fair and it’s always fun to bump into them, as that usually means trouble with a grin... and a gin.

I won’t be checking in on or using any of the Frankfurt digital seminars or products. I’m afraid my Luddite ways will mean not.

Even though there’s no real-life Frankfurt this year, there’s plenty I’m excited about. In particular, I have two brilliant novels, Still Life by Sarah Winman and The Island by Libby Page, both of which celebrate love, humanity and the galvanising, cohesive power of friendship and community.

The best FBF party I have been to? Well, it’s all a beautiful blur and yes, and I am humming “The Way We Were” as I type: “Can it be that it was all so simple then, or has time rewritten every line?/If we had the chance to do it all again, tell me/Would we?/Could we?”

I don’t really have a “best” place in Frankfurt for a drink or a coffee. It’s always about the one where you get served quickly and find a seat!

My tip for surviving a normal Frankfurt is: don’t try too hard, it will all happen anyway.

The first thing I will do at next year’s Frankfurt when, or if, we are able to go is just be grateful I made it.