CULTURE

Velissaris at the helm of book center

Catherine Velissaris is the new director of the National Book Center of Greece (EKEBI), the Culture Ministry announced last Wednesday, putting an end to weeks of rumor and speculation. Dimitris Nollas will be the new president. EKEBI had been without a leader since its former director, Christos Lazos, resigned following the Greek parliamentary elections in March. Founded in 1995 to promote Greek books at home and abroad, EKEBI has shown itself willing to embark on initiatives, though not always capable of following through. Recent criticism has centered on the much-postponed Scripta Fair and an unwillingness to listen to publishers. Time, then, for a new hand on the helm, and Velissaris, currently director of the European Translation Center (EKEMEL), is an inspired choice. For 20 years at the French Institute in Athens (1980-2000) and for the following three years at EKEMEL, Velissaris deployed a rare combination of business expertise, literary savvy and pure French charm to forge lasting partnerships and build productive networks and institutions. At the French Institute, she founded the French-Greek Literary Translation Center (CTL), a literary translation school and a network of European literary translation schools, while fulfilling her duties as editor of the French publisher Actes Sud’s Greek series. Under her leadership, EKEMEL has promoted dialogue among literatures in Europe by bringing together writers, translators, publishers, critics and booksellers, and it runs a successful literary translation school operating in five languages. Its latest project, the House of Literature on Paros, run jointly with the Paros Municipality, has already attracted a stream of applications from writers and translators. Uniquely equipped for the task by her training as a lawyer and wide experience in the field, Velissaris will bring to EKEBI the creativity and efficiency it needs to move ahead.