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March 2009

Greece, Inside (and) Out

This month we're exploring Greece from perspectives both native and foreign. An earlier generation's exodus has made way for a new influx of arrivals, changing the fabric of Greek society and shaping a new literary landscape. Here ex-pats and immigrants, insiders and outsiders consider national, cultural, and ethnic identity in defining what it means to be Greek today. We're delighted to present the work of Thanassis Valtinos, Dimitris Chatzis, Margarita Karapanou, Ioanna Karystiani, Vassilis Alexakis, Sotiris Dimitriou, Petros Markaris, Ersi Sotiropoulos, Vassilis Gkourogiannis, and Gazmend Kapllani. Our special thanks to guest editor Karen Emmerich for her invaluable expertise and help in putting together this very special issue.

Interviews Etgar Keret on Tradition, Translation, and Alien Toasters
Adam Rovner interviews Etgar Keret as part of WWB's month-long discussion of Etgar Keret's Girl on the Fridge. You can find links to other posts and essays in this series at the bottom of the…
Translated from Hebrew
On Etgar Keret
Phillip Lopate's essay was included in the accompanying booklet to WWB's March 5th event at the Idlewild bookstore in New York City. It is also part of our ongoing discussion of Etgar Keret's…
The Necessity of Choosing
Miriam Shlesinger's essay was included in the accompanying booklet to WWB's March 5th event at the Idlewild bookstore in New York City. It is also part of our month-long discussion of Etgar Keret's…
Song of the Kiwi
The kiwi is man, that male animal with his triptych of dangling genitals: he doesn't sing, he doesn't fly, he has no wings. He doesn't get pregnant. He has no breasts. He lacks a fresh vagina.…
Translated from Spanish
From “Paris–Athens”
I first wrote this text in French. I finished it on November 20, 1988. I chose French because I wanted to make sense of my relationship with this language in which I have also written other books. I translated…
Translated from French
Kaspar Hauser in a Desolate Land from “The Double Book”
By Dimitris Chatzis
I haven’t seen that chain-smoking Spanish girl for days. Not at our ten o’clock break, and not during the shift. I guess she’s been fired. Keine Disziplin!—no discipline. She’d…
Translated from Greek by Peter Constantine
From “God Tells Them All”
By Sotiris Dimitriou
Sotiris Dimitriou’s novels and short stories are known for their focus on the underside of contemporary Greek society, in particular the experiences of an immigrant underclass. Importantly, they…
Translated from Greek by Patricia Felisa Barbeito
Nazif the Turk from Ioannina
By Vassilis Gkourogiannis
The last car—let’s call it the leader’s—flashed its headlights, and the signal was relayed from car to car all the way to the first in line, which was then responsible for promptly finding…
Translated from Greek by Patricia Felisa Barbeito
From “The Sleepwalker”
By Margarita Karapanou
“Flying Dolphin!”Alan leapt out of bed. It was a quarter to seven and he had missed the boat. He had packed his bags and dressed for the trip the night before, and though it was May he’d…
Translated from Greek by Karen Emmerich
From “Suit in the Soil”
By Ioanna Karystiani
The cab driver was in the mood for conversation, but his passenger wasn’t. So the tape deck came on and Angela Dimitriou started work at seven-thirty in the morning.Side by side in a silver twin…
Translated from Greek by Karen Emmerich
Green Card
By Petros Markaris
The kid was turning his stubby little chest this way and that with his arms stretched wide like the wings of a glider whirling out of control. There were few people on the sidewalk of September 3rd Street…
Translated from Greek by David Connolly
Can Anybody Hear Me?
By Ersi Sotiropoulos
Galina Petrova was walking to work under the weight of a humid, suffocating heat. There were only two blocks to go, but she had started dragging her feet. She stopped at the kiosk on the corner to catch…
Translated from Greek by Karen Emmerich
From “The Book of Andreas Kordopatis, Part I, America”
By Thanassis Valtinos
I kept walking slow-like, straight ahead, the road took me back to the river. Same place the ship stopped the first day, then it left and went further up.I saw someone who looked like a watchman. I ask…
Translated from Greek by Jane Assimakopoulos
From “Paris–Athens”
To my father I. Silence I don't know when I started to write this book. I know that today is the 9th, I'm looking in my datebook: Sunday, November 9th, 1986, St. Theodore's day—no, I'm…
Translated from French
From “A Short Border Handbook”
By Gazmend Kapllani
I woke up the next morning with my head on a stranger's thigh while the head of another stranger was resting on my leg. My entire body was stiff, I was freezing cold and shaking all over. Someone…
Translated from Greek by Anne-Marie Stanton-Ife
Modern Greek Literature, Inside (and) Out
It has never been possible to speak of Greece in terms of a simple opposition between what it contains on the inside, and what lies beyond its borders. Even before the founding of the Greek state in 1830,…
Spring this year arrived as clean as if in its Sunday best, and we felt embarrassed that we were still in our work clothes, our hands unwashed, with the dog in the barnyard mangy and shedding. And we…
Translated from Latvian
An Interview with Adrian Tomine
Over 800 pages and eleven years in the making, A Drifting Life is a monumental achievement and the long-waited autobiography of legendary Japanese cartoonist Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Called the father of gekiga—realistic…