Greece: 20th Thessaloniki Fair Opens: Guest of Honor Sharjah

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

The Thessaloniki International Book Fair opens with its second professional program, to run through Sunday in northern Greece.

A news conference prior to the opening of the Thessaloniki International Book Fair features the fair’s coordinator Nopi Chatzigeorgiou, left, and Sharjah Book Authority CEO Ahmed Al Ameri, second from left. Image: TIBF

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

The Arab-Greek Cultural Connection
Opening Thursday (May 16) to run through Sunday (May 19), Greece’s main book-focused event, the Thessaloniki International Book Fair is this year in its 20th iteration and welcomes the United Arab Emirates’ Sharjah Book Authority  as its guest of honor.

Publishing Perspectives readers will recall our announcement in November that the Book Authority CEO Ahmed Al Ameri had made the agreement with Nikos Koukis, president of the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, was on hand for the Greek team, as was Nopi Chatzigeorgiou, the Thessaloniki Book Fair coordinator. We know now that the Book Authority chairperson, the Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi, will be on-hand for the program, along with a special presentation of the PublisHer international network for women in the book business.

Sporting an artfully arranged special logo for the first appearance at Thessaloniki’s fair by an Arab guest of honor, the Sharjah program in northern Greece follows by only four days the closing on Sunday of the 12-day Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival , which drew 157,381 visitors while its concomitant five-day Sharjah Animation Conference drew 8,000 attendees of its own.

Weam Ibrahim, the longtime stand and pavilion designer for Sharjah, has created an expansive pavilion for the emirate’s Thessalonian guest appearance, punctuated by a recurring pattern of Arabian arches and divided into areas for meetings, exhibition, and presentations.

A rendering of the Guest of Honor Sharjah pavilion for the Thessaloniki Book Fair, May 16 to 19. Image: SBA

The Sharjah program has several key initiatives in place as it opens with the fair this week:

  • The emirate is releasing 10 books by Emirati authors in Greek translations
  • Sharjah is also organizing more than 30 panel discussions, workshops, and events in the central Macedonian city
  • There are more than 20 cultural institutions from Sharjah making contributions to its presentation, which under the direction of Al Qasimi is focused on age-old connections between Greek and Arab cultural developments.

Related story: ‘Greece Opens Athens’ Year as UNESCO’s World Book Capital.‘ Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

In one sequence, Al Qasimi will speak to the impact of the UNESCO World Book Capital program on children’s literature and publishing. As many of our readers will remember, Sharjah became the 19th designated World Book Capital in 2019, following Athens’ turn in 2018, and the Greek nation and Sharjan emirate thus have each had the experience of developing and implementing the educational and cultural programming mandated by UNESCO’s honor. Al Qasimi, of course, has a book for children about the World Book Capital program and will be joined in Thessaloniki by the UNESCO specialist Anna Rootsis in a conversation about her (Al Qasimi’s) work in promoting Arab culture in the international arena.

The University of Athens, meanwhile, is to mount a program called Timeless Cultural Relations Between Greece and the Arab World: Contemporary Literature of the United Arab Emirates with Mohamad el Khalidi; Ali Al Abdan; Ibrahim Al Hashemi; Eleni Kondyli; and Persa Koumoutsis.

PublisHer Programming at Thessaloniki

Set in the context of Nopi Chatzigeorgiou’s Dialogos Stage in Pavilion 14, Al Qasimi speaks briefly on Friday (May 17) at noon in her capacity as the PublisHer founder and the founding CEO of Sharjah’s Kalimat Group, handing off to Chatzigeorgiou.

  • Their comments will be followed by a panel at 12:10 p.m. called The Impact of Women-led Publishing Houses: Sharjah and Greece with Stella Kasdagli; Ameera Ali Bin Kadra; Fatma Alkhatib; Eva Karaitidi; and Annie Ragia.
  • Another panel, Promoting Diversity in Publishing, follows at noon on Saturday (May 18), with Olivia Snaije; Ranya Bakr; Elena Pataki; Pola Kapola; and Liza Siola.
  • Lastly, on Sunday (May 19), the  program’s noontime panel is Women’s Role in Shaping the Literature Landscape with Kiriaki Beioglou; Efi Riza-Skyfa; Laura di Pietro; Lina Chebaro; and Zizi Salimpa.

Publisher also is presenting 115 children’s books in an exhibition in cooperation with the familiar Italian Accademia Drosselmeier/ Cooperativa Giannino Stoppani.

Thessaloniki’s Professional Program

More than 30 book-industry professionals are expected to participate in Thessaloniki’s second fellowship program, which draws this year from at least 22 markets including Egypt, Albania, Brazil, Britain, Bulgaria, France, Germany, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, India, Iran, Spain, Israel, Italy, North Macedonia, Lithuania, Mexico, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, and Turkey.

Related article: ‘Thessaloniki Book Fair: Greece Opens Its ‘Dialogos Stage.‘ Image: Publishing Perspectives, Porter Anderson

In one interesting development, Greek publishers will have an opportunity to meet members of the European Network for Literary Translation (known as ENLIT), which is holding an annual meeting at Thessaloniki during the fair.

Those attending are expected to include Ainhoa Sanchez (Spain); Tiia Strandén (Finland); Kotryna Pranckunaite (Lithuania); Olena Odynoka (Ukraine); Pavel Sibyla (Slovakia); Katja Urbanija (Slovenia); Sinéad Mac Aodha (Ireland); Paul Hermans (Belgium/ Flanders); Marife Boix-Garcia (Germany, Frankfurter Buchmesse); Margit Walsø (Norway); Martin Krafl (Czech Republic); Julià Florit Juan (Catalunya); and Alexandra Büchler (United Kingdom/Wales).

Programming Highlights

Some of the key events anticipated are here, listed in times local to Thessaloniki, which is GMT +3:

May 17

10 a.m. International Book Markets: European Countries

  • Elisa Diallo – foreign rights director, S. Fischer Verlag, Germany
  • Gabriela Panaget – Editions Grasset &Fasquelle, France
  • Beatriz Coll – RDC Agencia Literaria, Spain
  • Mairead Loftus – rights manager, Pan Macmillan, UK
  • Moderator: Petra Hardt – TBF “fellowship ambassador,” books and rights consulting, Germany

11 a.m. International Book Markets: America

  • Brooke O’Donnell – senior vice-president, Independent Publishers Group, USA
  • Ricardo Sánchez-Riancho – director, Textofilia Ediciones, Mexico
  • Laura Di Pietro – publisher, Editora Tabla, Brazil
  • Moderator: Petra Hardt – TBF “fellowship ambassador,” books and rights consulting, Germany

1 p.m. UAE Book Market: empowering Publishers Through Professional Development and Outreach

  • Alanoud Ali – Emirates Publishers Association, programs and PR manager, UAE
  • Fatima Al Khatib – publisher, Emirates Publishers Association, UAE
  • Nestoras Poulakos – publisher, Vakxikon Publications,Greece
  • Moderator: Nopi Chatzigeorgiou – Thessaloniki Book Fair Coordinator, HFC

2 p.m. International Book Markets: Asia and Africa

  • Kanchan Wanchoo Sharma – head of Exhibitions, National Book Trust India
  • Mohamed El-Baaly – director of Sefsafa Culture and Publishing, Egypt
  • Alireza Nourizadeh – executive manager of Iran Book Grant, Ministry of Culture, Iran
  • Moderator: Petra Hardt – TBF “fellowship ambassador,” books and rights consulting, Germany

May 18

2 p.m. Literature in Motion: EUPL, Promoting Emerging Fiction Writers in Europe

  • Martina Vidaić – Writer, Croatia, Award 2023
  • Marente de Moor – Writer, Holland, Award 2014
  • Bianca Bellová – Writer, Czech Republic, Award 2017
  • Giovanni Dozzini – Writer, Italy Award, 2019
  • Moderator: Kostas Spatharakis – Publisher, Translator, EUPL 2024 jury member


A view from inside the Guest of Honor Sharjah pavilion at the Thessaloniki International Book Fair. Image: Nabs Ahmedi

More from Publishing Perspectives on Greece is here, more on guest of honor programs at publishing’s trade shows and book fairs is heremore on rights trading in the international book publishing industry is here, our Rights Roundup series is here, and more on world publishing’s trade shows and book fairs is here. More from Publishing Perspectives about the Sharjah Booksellers Conference is here, more on the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival is here, more on the Sharjah Animation Conference is here, more on Sharjah and its market is here, more on guest of honor programs is here, and more on Thessaloniki International Book Fair is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

Facebook Twitter

Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.