CULTURE

Greek contingent all ready to set out for Germany

Months of diligent preparation have peaked and the Greek contingent is about to set out for the 53rd Frankfurt Book Fair, where Greece is this year’s guest of honor. Scores of Greek writers and publishers are attending the world’s largest book fair (October 9-15), represented by the National Book Council (EKEBI) and the Hellenic Federation of Greek Publishers and Booksellers (POEB). Greek President Costis Stephanopoulos will officially open the fair on October 10 in the presence of German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Maria Farandouri and the Berliner Instrumentalisten will perform at the opening day gala. Presenting the final details of Greek events at the fair to the press Tuesday at the Byzantine Museum, Culture Minister Evangelos Venizelos praised the impeccable organization, the brunt of which was borne by EKEBI under director Christos Lazos. The minister expressed his thanks to Antonis Samarakis, who has agreed to go to Frankfurt as a special guest and honored writer, and Professor Angelos Delivorias, director of the Benaki Museum, who will speak at the opening ceremony. The Greek organizers’ approach is on two complementary levels, says the minister: The first has the aim of promoting Greek book production, books, and writers by achieving the greatest possible penetration of Greek books into foreign language markets. The second is to promote Greece itself, in what Venizelos describes as a golden opportunity to use literature, books and the efforts of publishers and writers to promote the country in the runup to 2004 and under the aegis of the Cultural Olympiad. The Greek connection with this year’s fair has sparked a tremendous burst of activity, with the publication or reissue of 40 books translated into German, and 130 related events organized in German-speaking countries during the June 2001-February 2002 period. With the presence of some 90 publishers, 41 writers, 20 presenters and commentators and six translators, the Greek effort is the country’s largest yet. POEB president Giorgos Dardanos contrasted it to the days when Greek publishers used to attend the fair solely in order not to be absent, and without the presence of cameras and journalists or the support of politicians. The response from the German press has been positive, says Frankfurt 2001 Organizing Committee chairman Giorgos Romaios, who said the articles published so far amount to three volumes. Events at the fair include talks, readings, musical events, CD-ROM and multimedia presentations and videos. Some of these will be at the new Forum, an ultra high-tech area which Greece, as the guest of honor, will inaugurate. Other events will be at the Frankfurt Literaturhaus, Hesse Radio and bookstores and other locations in Frankfurt. Among the highlights of the week are the Blue Book award on October 10, for the German translation of Menis Koumandareas’s novel, The Handsome Captain, and a concert at the Old Opera with Agnes Baltsa and the Hesse Symphony Orchestra conducted by Nikolaos Athinaos, artistic director of the Thessaloniki Concert Hall, on October 11. The parallel events promoting Greece itself include theater performances, art exhibitions, poetry set to music, and a performance by Savina Yiannatou and Sefarditika.