CULTURE

Connecting with the rest of the world via books

Thessaloniki Book Fair is growing up fast. From modest beginnings as Scripta in 2004, the TBF has grown into a fully-fledged international fair with a strong regional profile. The latest evidence of an assured professional approach came on Monday, with the trial edition of Bookfair, a free newspaper issued during the fair, from May 17-20. An attractively designed introduction to the fair, it offers a taste of what is in store for book trade professionals, children and adults -including meetings, book presentations, discussions, as well as films and exhibitions related to travel, the theme of the 2007 fair. There’s every sign that once again TBF will be a success, but the National Book Center of Greece (EKEBI), which organizes the fair, is not resting on its laurels, EKEBI Chairman Dimitris Nollas said in an interview with Bookfair: «That would be a luxury,» he explained. «The endeavor is still new and very difficult.» In a brief foreword, EKEBI Director Catherine Velissaris sounds an upbeat note: «Through books we share. We connect with the rest of the world.» That connection will get reinforcement at TBF from more than 100 publishers from five continents and 47 countries, literary agents from all over Europe and correspondents from leading foreign newspapers, including Le Monde, The Guardian and The Independent. A sizable contingent of foreign authors will also attend the fair, to present their work and share ideas. Among the visitors is American writer, Christopher Merrill, author of «Journey To Athos.» Three writers who live outside their native countries – Abdelkader Benali, a Moroccan who lives in The Netherlands, Periklis Monioudis, a Greek who lives in Germany and Gazmend Kapllani, an Albanian who lives in Greece – will share the experience of traveling to another language in a panel discussion. Alaa Al Aswany, author of «The Yakubian Building,» will talk before a screening of the film based on his book. Serb writer Zoran Zivkovic will talk about the biography of a book; the work of two Dutch writers, Arthur Japin and Arnon Grunberg, will be presented and there will be discussions with Stephane Heuet who adapted Proust for comics and French author Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. Italian writer Niccolo Ammaniti will talk with a panel of young Greek writers, while Algerian writer Assia Djebar will discuss female identity and the freedom to write. These events will foster fruitful cross-border exchanges at the 2007 TBF.