CULTURE

Ithaca’s new issues: English and Spanish

Ithaca, published monthly by the National Book Center, branched out in September with a special issue in Spanish, produced for the Madrid International Book Fair, October 1-4. Greece had four writers at the fair – Maria Efstathiadi, Nikos Panayotopoulos, Andreas Apostolidis and Thanassis Yiatsopoulos – and Ithaca did a good job of presenting them and other Greek writers to the Spanish-speaking public. Vangelis Hadzivassileiou’s useful overview of recent Greek fiction provides context, introducing the various genres in which contemporary Greek novelists are writing, from the historical novel and magic realism to the fictionalized biography, campus novel and parody. Vicente Fernandez Gonzalez, who also edited and did some of the translations for the Spanish issue of the magazine, looks at the development of modern Greek fiction, and compares it to the experience of Spain and other European countries. Other authors presented here are Michel Fais, Michalis Ganas, Dimitris Houliarakis, Menis Koumandareas, Dimitris Nollas, Costis Papageorgis, Nikos Themelis, Soti Triandafyllou and Alki Zei, alongside – and this was an excellent idea – excerpts from their work, translated into Spanish, to give readers at least some idea of a range of Greek writing. A bibliography covers the last 10 years of Greek books translated into Spanish. October Petros Markaris, one of Greece’s best-selling writers abroad, is the featured writer in the October issue of Ithaca, with Philippos Phillipou’s article on «A Writer for Clever Readers,» and an interview with the author. Ithaca has always paid due attention to photography, which is covered in this issue by Emmanouela Trepa’s article, «Greece Seen Through the Photographer’s Lens.» It’s something of a fashion at the moment for publishers to churn out glossy albums for mass consumption but the appetite for postcard pictures of Greek scenes is soon surfeited. Trepa, however, selects the most interesting volumes – whether the big names, like Magnum photographer Nikos Economopoulos, or those with an unusual take on some aspect of Greece, such as Evita Machaira’s book «The Shadow of Athens» with its images of bygone days, or Michel Fais’s record of the underbelly of Athens, «The City on its Knees.» In the regular «Cities of the World» section, Maria Mitsora offers a glimpse of her friend Raul’s Cuba, and reviews cover recent publications of fiction, poetry, history, children’s books and gastronomy.