Novelist Julian Barnes to speak tonight at Athens Concert Hall

It was inevitable that somebody would ask Julian Barnes about his Britishness. «It’s not something I think about when I’m in England,» he told the press yesterday, «but the minute I set foot abroad, I’m reminded that I’m seen as a representative of Britishness.» The writer, whose latest book, «Arthur and George» is out in a Greek translation by Alexandra Kontaxaki from Metaichmio, is in Athens as the guest of the Athens Concert Hall and the British Council. «The British are not very good at thinking about what being British means,» he said, attributing it to Britain having been a great power in the past: «When you see yourself as the norm, you don’t bother thinking about who you are.» Urbane, with a ready smile, Barnes cheerfully answered big questions about world politics but, he noted, «I’m more reliable on literature.» Asked about the often announced but yet to be confirmed death of the novel, Barnes agreed that the novel is thriving: Cinema, television and the Internet may have presented new challenges to the novel by doing certain things better, but the novel has «colonized the inner nature of human relations,» he argued. At the Athens Concert Hall, Vassilissis Sofias & Kokkali, 7 p.m., today. Admission is free; priority coupons will be available from 6 p.m.

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