CULTURE

Greek books enter the German market

With the International Book Fair of Frankfurt on the horizon, most of the news so far has been about which writers and books will be translated into German. In any case, being translated into German was almost a prerequisite for Frankfurt this year. But Greek books will have German publishers. The following is a brief overview of the German publishers that are putting out Greek books and what they represent on the German publishing scene. Our tour guide is Nikos Dimitropoulos, who has studied publishing in Germany. Diogenes Verlag, which publishes the books of Petros Markaris, is a Swiss company based in Zurich. It publishes well-known writers (such as Doris Lessing, Patrick Suskind and Susanna Tamaro) and the popular whodunit writer Donna Leon, who has nine titles to her credit. One of the largest German-language publishing houses with an extensive distribution network, Diogenes’s books have a distinctive appearance. Suhrkamp Verlag, based in Frankfurt, published Ioanna Karystiani’s Little England. One of the three largest in Germany, it is a historic publisher whose owner is seen as the doyen of the German publishing scene and has immense prestige. The company’s list includes classic authors such Brecht, Hesse, Bernhard, Handke, Proust, Beckett and Joyce, in addition to successful writers such as Isabel Allende, Jacques Derrida, Pierre Bourdieu and Martin Walser. Insel Verlag, based in Frankfurt, publishes the work of Alexandros Papadiamantis, Yiannis Ritsos, Mikis Theodorakis, Rea Galanakai ( Life of Ismail Ferik Pasha) and Stratis Tsirkas’s trilogy Drifting Cities. It has also published two anthologies of prose and poetry edited by Danae Koulmasi. This publisher has a tradition of publishing fine German verse (Goethe, Schiller, Rilke and Brecht). An affiliate of Suhrkamp, one of Germany’s largest publishers, it has the profile is of a small publisher which puts the emphasis on quality books and the classics. Berlin Verlag is based in Berlin. It will bring out Alexis Panselinos’s book Zaida, or the Camel in the Snow. Known for the fine appearance of its books, good promotion and modern titles, it is considered to be one of the best German publishing houses. Recently it was bought out by Bertelsmann, the most powerful publisher in Germany, which has expanded into the rest of the media. Berlin Verlag has not changed its policy, but seems to be lending Bertelsmann its prestige and seriousness. Dielmann Verlag, based in Frankfurt, publishes C.P. Cavafy, Nikos Engonopoulos, Yiannis Ritsos, Kiki Dimoula and Demosthenes Kourtovik (The Nostalgia of Dragons). It is a small company which publishes a few carefully selected, finely produced books. Dumont Verlag, based in Cologne, has published a book by Giorgis Yiatromanolakis. It is a big name in German publishing for non-fiction and specialized publications. A couple of years ago it expanded into poetry and literature, choosing to publish works from countries on the periphery. Recently it expanded into the English-speaking market. Its books are made of natural paper and have compelling covers. Kunstmann Verlag is based in Munich. It has published Aris Alexandros’s novel The Box. A small, active company on the rise, it survives on the basis of its strong list. It has a good distribution network and well-presented books. Based in Munich, dtv Verlag publishes Ersi Sotiropoulou. It was founded in the 1960s when a number of publishers joined forces to produce paperback books. Now it is an autonomous operation and keeps up its tradition of paperbacks, a field in which it has a high reputation. It publishes a large number of literary works and has excellent distribution. Eichborn Verlag, based in Frankfurt, publishes Andreas Staikos. It is a subversive publisher which chooses unusual books on the basis of quality. It became known for The Other Library, a high-quality modern essay series directed by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. Hanser Verlag, one of the three largest publishers, is based in Munich. It publishes a number of Greek writers: Katerina Angelaki-Rook, Maria Laina, Pavlos Matesis and Soti Triantafyllou (through its affiliate Solnay Verlag). The publisher, Michael Kruger, is a philhellene and knowledgeable about Greek books. The company publishes Kundera and George Steiner and has excellent distribution. Its books are superbly presented. Piper Verlag, based in Munich, is publishing books by Antonis Sourounis and Nikos Themelis. It puts out many fine works of literature and a large series of popularized but serious scientific works. The German publishing scene is extensive, comprising more than 2,000 companies. There is no doubt that, as Dimitropoulos says, Greek books will be published by the biggest and best German publishing companies.