Dean Kalymnios unveils new children’s book about rich cultural heritage of Cappadocia

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Renowned Greek lawyer and author Dean Kalymnios has unveiled his latest work The Librarian of Cappadocia, marking the second children’s book in his writing collection.

Mr Kalymnios revealed that The Librarian of Cappadocia tells the story of a monk’s quest for knowledge, while fulfilling his destiny. He said it was inspired by the rich cultural and religious heritage of Cappadocia in central Turkey, and explores the monk’s journey of seeking knowledge through books and wisdom left behind by those of his past.

“The greatest theologians of the Orthodox Church called it home,” Mr Kalymnios told The Greek Herald about Cappadocia.

“During the Ottoman times, our people held steadfastly onto their identity and their faith even though they lost their language and wrote Turkish… In many ways, the land serves as a metaphor for diasporan communities around the world including our own.

“Also, the existence of layers upon layers of caves and underground cities in the lunar-like landscape of the region suggests that there are layers and sub-layers to everything, a tantalising mix that begs sensitive treatment.”

The author said he has been drawn to writing for as long as he can remember, with his works being published since the age of 23.

Dean Kalimniou writing collection
Dean Kalimniou’s writing collection.

“I have published seven books of poetry in Greek, a collection of Greek short stories, which was published in Athens, Greece last year, and two children’s books,” Mr Kalymnios said.

“The first of the children’s books, Soumela and the Magic Kemenche, is bilingual and was published by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. The Librarian of Cappadocia has been written in English.

“I also regularly write and perform Karagiozis plays in Greek, for the younger members of our community in Melbourne, and recently, I wrote a play in Greek, which premiered in Greece and then was performed in Sydney and Melbourne this year.”

As Mr Kalymnios strives to pursue both law and writing, he said arguing and storytelling is an “inextricable part” of his existence.

“My three story-loving children were the main reason,” Mr Kalymnios said when asked what inspired him to write children’s books.

“My first children’s book was written during lockdown at their request.”

Soumela children's book cover
The first of Dean Kalimniou’s children’s books, ‘Soumela and the Magic Kemenche.’

Mr Kalymnios added that “finding the right voice to convey our stories to our children is a task fraught with difficulty.”

“Greek Australian children’s writers who write in English often fall into the trap of presenting their narrative in a manner acceptable to or predetermined by the dominant culture and by consequence, of treating the “Greek” elements in their story as exotic and foreign instead of organic and thus, over-explaining,” he said.

The Librarian of Cappadocia seeks to articulate a Greek Australian approach to aspects of our heritage, making it relevant to our everyday lives in this country and beyond.

“It also argues that literature of an ethical and religious nature have a relevant place for children, in an increasingly secularised society.”

Mr Kalymnios said the book is aimed at people aged 10 and over, however he hopes it will be enjoyed by people of all ages.

“As a parable/ fable, I am hoping that children will identify the symbolism, pick up the nuances and affirm that their own unity of purpose and perspective should not be compromised by those older or more powerful than they, and that true insight and understanding lies in humility and empathy,” he said.

“Along the way, I hope the children become as enthralled as I am with the land of Cappadocia.”

The Librarian of Cappadocia will officially launch with the support of Bishop and Missionary of Sierra Leone, Bishop Themistocles of Nicopolis on 21 July at Saint Dimitrios Parish Hall in Victoria.

“The release of the book, and most importantly its acceptance for publication by an Australian mainstream publishing company, Bonfire Books, affirms my conviction that in a multicultural society our traditions and beliefs can be not only portrayed, but interpreted in an organic manner and used to inspire the production of literature in all genres,” Mr Kalymnios added.

Mr Kalimniou is also currently developing a publishing company that focuses on providing young Greek Australian children with the opportunity to have their voices heard.

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