BolognaBookPlus is also introducing an author ambassador programme at this year’s fair, to celebrate authors that bridge the worlds of adult and children’s publishing. This year’s ambassador is Victoria Hislop, who is publishing her first children’s novel, Maria’s Island (Walker Books) in June.
Hislop said she was “thrilled”, adding: “Crossing publishing worlds is an exciting step; I have always been overwhelmed by the generosity of my readers of The Island and beyond. Maria’s Island tackles some difficult themes, but I believe young readers are both curious and open-hearted and I hope they enjoy my first endeavour for them.”
British best-selling author Victoria Hislop was officially sworn-in as a Greek citizen during a ceremony in Athens on Thursday.
The author in July had been granted the Greek citizenship by Hellenic Republic President Aikaterini Sakellaropoulou for her contribution to the promotion of Greece’s history and traditions through her books.
She was officially sworn-in as a Greek citizen at the Interior Ministry by Citizenship Secretary General Athanasios Balerbas.
After the ceremony, Victoria Hislop was received at the Maximos Mansion by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis who thanked her for supporting Greece.
“I want to thank you for your pure love for Greece, which is reflected in everything you do and write,” Mitsotakis said.
He went on to note that the honorary citizenship process is an opportunity to recognize people who are “Greeks at heart”.
On her part, Hislop gave the Prime Minister a copy of her latest book titled “Those who are loved”. She also said that she had been feeling Greek for a long time.
“I love Greece with its problems and its difficulties, not only for its beauty. I love everything,” she added.
Hislop visits Greece very often and has a second home on the island of Crete. “The Island”, one of her many best-selling novels is set on Spinalonga, an island off the coast of Crete that was Greece’s leper colony for much of the 20th century.
The book was adapted by Greece’s Mega Channel as a 26-episode series titled “To Nisi”, which premiered on Greek television in October 2010 and was considered a huge success among viewers and TV critics.
The Sunday Times #1 Bestseller Those Who Are Loved is now in paperback.
Set against the backdrop of the German occupation of Greece, the subsequent civil war and a military dictatorship, all of which left deep scars.
Themis is part of a family bitterly divided by politics and, as a young woman, her fury with those who have collaborated with the Nazis, drives her to fight for the communists. She is eventually imprisoned on the notorious islands of exile, Makronisos and Trikeri, and has to make a life or death decision. She is proud of having fought, but for the rest of her life is haunted by some of her actions. Forty years after the end of the civil war, she finally achieves catharsis.
‘A beautifully woven love story and a spellbinding, heart-breaking depiction of a country torn apart by hatred’, Daily Express
‘Hislop has done her research and handles the great sweep of complex Greek history with skill and confidence. She makes a touching family story out of violent and divisive times and her fans will lap this up’, Daily Mail
As she’s made an honorary citizen, bestselling novelist Victoria Hislop raises a glass of ouzo to the country that stole her heart 40 years ago
She had scarcely travelled anywhere at all. Yet, recently separated from my father and keen for adventure, my mother, Mary, decided to whisk my sister and me to Athens.
It was the late 1970s. I was 17 years old — and promptly fell in love at first sight.
Not with a dark-eyed local boy, but with Greece itself. That first experience of clear, bright Aegean light and delicious warmth from the Mediterranean sun has remained with me ever since.
My mother approached that first visit with her usual energy. We ticked off with appreciation every archaeological site in the guidebook, going round on buses, frequently getting lost, trying to decipher street signs in an unfamiliar alphabet and almost melting in the August heat. It was hot, confusing and noisy, but I adored everything about it.
After we’d unpicked what we could of Athens, we took a ferry to the island of Paros, which was all whitewashed villages and blue-domed churches. Having spent most previous summer holidays on the pebbly beach at Bognor Regis, the soft white sand was a revelation.
My mother lit the spark which ignited my lifelong Greek passion and inspired my bestselling novel, The Island, set on Spinalonga, a tiny island off the coast of Crete, which was the last leper colony in Europe.
I thought of Mum last week when my phone rang at 10am on a quiet Thursday morning. I answered the unknown number that flashed up on my screen and heard the unexpected words: ‘I have the Prime Minister for you.’
The person on the line was speaking Greek so I knew it wasn’t going to be Boris Johnson. Then I heard what, for me, has become a familiar voice: that of Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek PM (I know his authoritative tones from the Greek equivalent of the Today programme which I tune into each morning).
Mr Mitsotakis was calling to offer me Honorary Citizenship of Greece for promoting modern Greek history and culture through my writings.
To say I was thrilled is an understatement. But it was a pity that I couldn’t share it with my mother. The call came in July, almost precisely four months after she died in a care home, aged 92.
Mum was there at the very beginning of my connection with Greece and years later accompanied me on my research trips to Crete. It was a huge pleasure when I had finished writing The Island to dedicate it to her, and I love to think there are at least five million copies of the book around the world dedicated ‘To my mother, Mary’ …
The author of bestsellers including “The Island” and “Those Who Are Loved,” may officially consider herself Greek.
Greece’s President Katerini Sakellaropoulou has signed an honorary naturalization order allowing the 61-year-old novelist to claim Greek citizenship.
Hislop, who has a holiday house in Crete where she spends several months a year, was granted Greek citizenship for promoting modern Greek history and culture, including the history of the tiny island of Spinalonga, off the coast of Crete, the last leper colony in Europe. Spinalonga served as the setting for her 2005 historical novel “The Island.”
The decree was published in the Greek government gazette.
Under Greek law, honorary naturalization may be granted to people “who have provided exceptional services to the country or whose naturalization serves the public interest.”
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