Interpreting the press conference of the author Arne Dahl as part of the Athens World Book Capital 2018 event


The World Book Capital is a UNESCO initiative launched in 2001. The title is awarded each year to a different city and the event runs from 23 April in that year to 22 April of the following year. Athens was chosen as the World Book Capital 2018-2019. Various activities and events were held over the course of the year. 

One of them was a tribute to Scandinavian detective fiction which was organised in late October and early November 2018. The tribute included interviews, lectures and discussions with authors of detective novels. Among the honoured guests was Swedish writer Arne Dahl, whose works have been translated into numerous languages including Greek.


The interpreting took place at a press conference hosted by Arne Dahl at Athens City Hall. The panel was also attended by the author Petros Markaris, representatives of the Municipality of Athens, organisers of the Athens 2018 World Book Capital event, a representative from Metaichmio Press, the director of the Swedish Institute of Athens, and a representative of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, which was a major donor of the event. 

The task was assigned to me by the agency run by my colleague, Emilia Diamantopoulou. As is normal, preparation was done in advance, during which I learned about the author’s background and achievements, the content of his works, his style and manner of writing and the books which have been translated into Greek. During preparation I also watched several interviews in which the author commented among other things on individual aspects of his works, aspects of crime, the characteristics of heroes, the structure of society reflected in his stories, his research methods, his way of working, and so on. Watching television shows, based on adaptations of Arne Dahl’s books, was also an essential part of preparations. Watching those episodes helped me quickly get into the spirit of his works and added a particularly exciting hue to my preparations.

The language combination was English to Greek and Greek to English. English to Greek interpreting was used during Arne Dahl’s speech and comments. Talks, comments and questions posed by other participants were interpreted from Greek to English for Arne Dahl.

Simultaneous interpreting was chosen here. The equipment was placed in a separate area next to the event hall and visual contact with speakers was ensured via a screen which showed the front section of the event hall. Although the interpreters and speakers were not in the same room, this distance did not create issues with the natural flow and immediacy of speech. There was a good quality of image and sound which allowed me to easily keep up with the event’s pace.


Art knows no borders. However, in order to give practical effect to that, linguistic barriers –which in many cases prevent the artist from conveying his messages ‘by reaching’ the soul of the public– must be torn down.

So, if you’re also organising a cultural event with a similar philosophy, I can help you by:

  • Providing interpreting services
  • Assembling a team of interpreters for longer events
  • Providing translations to ensure your event or artistic work is properly promoted.
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