Strange days & Sand Festival in Europe!

This year’s 6th Sand Festival returns to the island of Crete and will take place on 21, 22 and 23 August at the beach of Kommos*. The Festival this year is dedicated to the book series Strange Days in Europe, a special series of translated books supported by the European Commission’s Creative Europe programme. Authors, editors and translators whose work is featured in Strange Days in Europe are invited to talk about their work at this year’s Sand Festival. Due to the current covid crisis, we will only be accepting texts in Greek this year, hoping that next year we will return to our international format and welcome texts in English by authors from all over the world once more. But of course everyone is always welcome to attend the festival; as always, apart from the readings on the sand, there will also be other artistic events, such as live music nights, art exhibitions, book fairs and more! All necessary health and safety measures will be followed during the festival.

Strange Days Books was the only Greek publishing house to be awarded with the Creative Europe Literary Translation fund this year and with its support will introduce 8 new books to the public; 5 award-winning books written in English, Danish, Albanian, French and Spanish that will be translated into Greek (for the very first time!) as well as 3 books written in Greek and will be translated into Spanish. Three of these books have already been released and are available in Greek by Strange Days Books.

The first book of the series is ‘The Spinning Heart’ by Irish author, Donal Ryan, a book that has been awarded several prizes (15 until now!) including the European Union Literary Prize. The book focuses on the time of the Irish financial crisis – which was parallel to the Greek financial crisis – and through stunning literary mastery tells the stories of people affected by it. As some reviews have pointed out it is a book “you remember forever”. ‘The Spinning Heart’ was translated into Greek for the first time by Gregory Papadoyiannis with a foreword written by the author himself especially for this Greek edition and is available to buy in Greek bookshops as well as the publisher’s website . There are already many reviews about the book in Greek webpages and blogs as well as an interview with the author about the publication of his book in Greek.

‘Huden er det elastiske hylster der omgiver hele legemet’, by Bjorn Rasmussen, yet another multi award-winning book, which has also won the European Union Prize for Literature, was released in Greece this summer in a translation from the original Danish by Sotirios Souliotis. This truly unique queer novel has already been recommended as one of this summer’s must-reads in LIFO, one of the most popular Greek magazines. The third book of the series, which was released by Strange Days Books in July, is Erik Satie’s selected writings ‘Les cahiers d’un mammifere’,translated from the French by Popi Kotsifi. The influential French composer’s writings are filled with wit, irony, surreal humour and unpretentious wisdom and it is the first time such a substantial volume of his texts is published in Greek.

Some of the people involved with the publication of the aforementioned three new books will be at this year’s Sand Festival. Authors Gregory Papadoyiannis (editor and translator of ‘Spinning Heart’ and editor of ‘Huden der elastiske’), Antonis Tsirikoudis (author of ‘When you least expect it’) and Andriana Minou* (writer, editor and cover illustrator) as well as translator Popi Kotsifi, will be there to present and discuss their work on the first day of the Festival, which will be dedicated to Strange Days in Europe. Also, three members of the Creative Writers’ Lab, (organized every year by Strange Days Books), Anastasia Baboula, Kalliopi Papadopoulou and Stella Kourmouli will discuss their readings of these three books of the series in an open conversation with all attendees of the Festival.

*All three belong to the organising team of the festival since its beginning and have published their books with Strange Days Books in Greek. ‘Ephemera’, ‘When you least expect it’ and ‘Allouterra’ are currently being translated into Spanish by Mario Dominguez Para as part of Strange Days in Europe. Gregory Papadoyiannis’ comic book, ‘Ephemera’ is a rare blend of humour and existential contemplation; darkly funny and unpretentiously intelligent, with some excerpts already translated and published in an American literary journal, ‘Ephemera’ is a pleasant, yet gripping read that could also be described as a hybrid of a comic album combined with philosophical observations. Antonis Tsirikoudis’ ‘When you least expect it’ is one of the few short story collections with queer elements, an under-represented genre in Greece, written by an author with a cosmopolitan perspective. Andriana Minou’s ‘Allouterra’ is a collection of prosetry, sketches by the author herself as well as a playlist of music/soundscapes (also created by the author), which is accessible to readers through a QR code. Excerpts from the book have been published in American and Canadian literary journals, while it has also been presented in the form of a video installation/performance at Thessaloniki Queer Arts Festival 2019 as well as a literary board game. Andriana Minou will also present a reading accompanied with video art (by Evi Minou) of her book ‘Allouterra’ at Sand Festival in Kommos.

Also in Sand Festival

-Actor/pianist Melachrinos Velentzas will present a music performance with literature and piano accompaniment.
– UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award winner and refugee advocate, Efi Latsoudi talk and discusses about the refugee crisis.


The Minoan town of Kommos, about 64 kilometres south of Heraklion is one of the most important archaeological sites in Heraklion Prefecture. It was once an ancient town with its own harbour. Kommos has an impressive and beautiful beach, one of the largest in Crete, stretching all the way from Kalamaki to Matala. The archeological site of Komos is located 4km west of Phaistos, near Pitsidia and Matala. Kommos (or Komos) was a small Minoan city founded in 2000 BC and served the port needs of Phaistos with which it was connected by road. It was probably destroyed by an earthquake in 1700 BC, but it continued to exist until the Hellenistic years.
Excavations in Komos in the period 1976-1996 by archaeologists Joseph Shaw and Maria Koutroumbaki brought to light Minoan houses, many public buildings, warehouses, very well preserved oil press facilities, a large courtyard and the first known shipyards in Crete.
A Greek sanctuary (1100 BC-300 AD), altars and a banquet hall were found in Komos. According to one estimate, Menelaus was shipwrecked here in Comos returning from Troy. Perhaps the worship in this sanctuary was established in the memory of this event.



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