Athens Literary Prize and winning writers

The downtown venue Citylink provided a fancy backdrop Monday night for the award ceremony for the 2007 Athens Literary Prize. The Dekata literary journal, which founded the prize – now in its second year – hopes it will attain the stature of the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Circle Award. Writer Theodoros Grigoriadis presented the foreign fiction prize to Javier Cercas for «The Speed of Light,» translated into Greek by Angeliki Vassilakou for Patakis. Cercas paid tribute to his translator: «It’s her you’re reading, not me,» and expressed his delight at receiving an award from a literary journal and writers. Author Thanassis Valtinos presented the Greek fiction award to Ioanna Bourazopoulou for «Ti eide i gynaika tou Lot?» (What Did Lot’s Wife See?), published by Kastaniotis. Praising the other contenders and thanking her publisher, Bourazopoulou said the event was «a celebration of literature.» «Publishers nominate books for the prize and writers judge them,» said Dekata contributor Yiannis Kakoulidis, who explained that the aim of the Greek fiction prize was «to ‘globalize’ the Greek winner and make contemporary Greek fiction more visible at home and abroad.» The winners won 5,000 euros apiece, a specially designed sculpture by Theodoros and a collector’s pen from the prize’s sponsor, Tzannes, the Greek distributor of the Mont Blanc writing implements. Valtinos also had something to celebrate this week, as a newly elected member of the Athens Academy. Speaking to Kathimerini English Edition, he acknowledged the honor and praised the Academy’s work, especially the books it publishes.