First Published by “NeaSynora – A.A. Livanis”, Athens, 1995
New Revised Edition: Patakis, Athens, October 2010
5rdimpression (8,000 copies)
Salonica in the mid ’80s is a city seething with life –artists’ groups, intellectuals, writers, poets, romance, parties, alcohol, daydreaming…A very ambitious and insecure young writeris unknowingly the target of a nebulous fate, part of a dark eternity. Spellbound by an attractive woman, he is lured into a labyrinth of strange coincidences. On one of his many journeys, he discovers a manuscript in an unlikely place, which he appropriates and publishes as his own. Success from the deception follows swiftly, as does the unshakable, devastating certainty that he can no longer write anything of his own. Addicted to forgery, he throws himself into the pursuit of new manuscripts, beginning to realise at the same time that he is the fly at the centre of a spider’s web.
Fraust is a novel inspired by the great European myth of Doctor Faustus, a myth that has long cross-fertilised western literature. In this version, Fraust represents, through everyday characters, the invasion of evil in today’s middleclass landscape. Beyond the landscapes of Evil, the thematic centre of the book maps the anxiety of writing and the representation of a world listening to itself cracking up. This is a novel dominated by the impulsiveness of youth, travel, loneliness and the vertigo of parody.
Excerpts from the Book of the Ocean
First published by Patakis, Athens, 2000; 243 pages
New edition, Patakis, Athens, November 2007; 297 pages
8th impression (7,000 copies)
A terrifying storm breaks out one autumn day on a small Aegean island. Without electricity, the island is cut off from the outside world. When night falls, in front of the fire lit by locals and tourists, a stranger begins to tell a story that will last through the night. It tells of a sailing ship setting outfrom a Greek port in the last summer of the 19th century and heading for Constantinople. On deck, a professional storyteller, such as had existed for centuries in the East, tells the travellers myths and fairy tales drawn from the world of the Mediterranean Sea, with dragons, dwarves, sprites, fairies, vampires… These narratives dip their finger in many bowls, mixing whole worlds together, interweaving pagan and Christian traditions, the light and the dust of the East, the history and the myths of its cultures.
This is a novel about the travellers and castaways of the ocean of humanity, an allegory of human existential loneliness adrift. The flag of this ship is the yearning for the forever lost innocence and charm of the world of fairy tales, as well as being anelegy on the aridness of modern times.
The soft crumb of summer
First published by Patakis, Athens, 2002
12th impression (8,000 copies)
How long does a summer last? Why did that particular summer seem endless? Why did Nicholas’ fingers knead the bread’s soft crumb back into dough?
The summer of 1974 was a very different one for Greece. It was the beginning of the military events in Cyprus, of mobilisation; a little latercame the fall of the dictatorship and the restitution of democracy. The echo of all these events reaches as far as the peaceful village where 11 year-old Nicholas is spending the summer. Childhood there meant groups of friends similar to gangs playing in the street all day long, with leaders drawn from ancient epics, duelling passionately, threatening enemies, dogs and cats. The protagonists were wooden swords, paper planes, bows and arrows, a close-cropped head, a pretty dress, romance, monuments all of Greek summer.The winds of war blowing in from afar also trailed behind them another fear, that of coming of age. What is it like to grow up? How do boys become men?
It allhappened that July and August, when some pine cones explodedin the midday heat like grenades and the radios blasted military marching songs.
This book is a reminder for the reader of the sour taste of the transition to the world of adolescence, that secretive fear and awkwardness… When does someone stop being a child? At the first pangs of love or at the first hint of inevitable decay?
Under the butterfly’s shadow
First Published by Patakis, Athens, May 2005
44thimpression (104,000 copies)
A historical novel set in northern Greece, chronicling the lives of two families across three generations: from eastern Thrace at the beginning of the 20th century, and the burnt villages of racial conflicts in Macedonia, to contemporary Salonica. Wars, refugeedom, the struggle and passions of so many years become distilled in the love betweena man and a woman. They meet under peculiar, almost nightmarish circumstances: they become trapped in the lift of an empty office block during a long holiday weekend in the torturing August heatwave. Alone for three days, they each confide to the other the story of their family since the beginning of the 20th century. They speak, grow afraid, weep, fall in love…
Do then butterflies cast shadows? Many would reply that they’ve just never noticed. The author would have sworn the same before writing this novel, or rather before noticing their shadow one day at noon. Theirs is a discreet shadow, content to exist unobserved, ethereal, like the winds that create it--in other words, a perfect symbol of human destiny.
Under the butterfly’s shadow is a novel-epic about the struggle of everyday life, about an entire century, or, in the words of another author and TV presenter, it is about “the hundred years of Greek solitude”.
First Published by Patakis, Athens, April 2008
25thimpression (54,000 copies)
In the spring of 1821 the Greeks, vassals of the Ottoman Empiredeprived of every right, rise against their rulers and a savage war begins that will last eight years. A young American student of Greekleaves Boston and crosses the ocean in order to reach the Mediterranean, possessed by the romantic spirit of Byron’s travels. He joins the rebels and fights for five years in pursuit of the dream of freedom, of the sovereignty of nations and of democracy… In Greece he also lives a great romance that teaches him a phrase in commonusage at the time: nightingale pie, a pie made of dreams, even when these are unattainable, just as nightingales cannot be put in a cage.
Nightingale Pie is a historical adventure novel, yet primarily it is a book about love and freedom. It deals with the human struggle for political freedom and self-determination, and it talks especially about the warm cocoon of love, which is the path towards and the springboard of that other freedom, existential freedom, thatthe human individual so much desires.
Words of the Wind
First Published by Patakis, Athens, March 2011
21thimpression (48,000 copies)
Winner of the Readers’ Prize, National Book Centre of Greece (E.KE.BI)
A group of childhood friends escape at the start of summer on a sailing boat, leaving behind them for ever, as they declare, their previous life. Their ship initially sets course for the east, for Lesbos, close to ancient Ilion. They wish to meet there one of their teenage loves, the beautiful Helen of their class at school, and then go with her to places hallowed by the memories of youth. They are now five middle-aged men, sad but also determined to change their life and battle against the fear of old age. Through the journey’s adventures, bitter humour and unpredictable events emerge not only their personal, interlaced stories, but also the recent crisis of the entire nation.
“Words of the wind” (ανεμώλια) are Homer’s way of describing what is hopeless and ineffectual. A constant dialogue with the Homeric world runs through the novel, the Iliad and the Odyssey are revived in today’s world under a different guise. The book is full of allegories and symbols: men’s war for a woman, the wanderings of the king who has been cursed by the gods, the descent to the world of the dead, Calypso’s island, in this case a hair salon, the decisive power of women…
Words of the Wind is a book about escaping from the world of male despair, but also about the thirst for youth and for that beauty that abolishes time.
Scenes from the Life of Mathias Almossino
First Published by Patakis, Athens, March 2014
16thimpression (53,000 copies)
The novel “Scenes from the Life of Mathias Almossino” is the story of a man, who could be the first European man. It is also the open palm of a hand that touches the map of Europe in the 17th century; every finger of the narrative is directed toward a different cardinal point: Newton’s England, England of the Royal Society, religiously tolerant Amsterdam of the merchants, icy Petersburg of the reformer Tsar, Venice of the carnival masks. The wrist of the hand touches the Ottoman wilderness, Salonica, Istanbul and Candia, the boundaries of Europe.
Mathias Almossino, a closeted Jew living in Basel, Switzerland, crosses at a tender age the Respublica Cristiana, a Christian territory. Orphaned in a Dickensian manner, imprisoned and oppressed by the theocracy of his time, he builds his adulthood through picaresque adventures changing masks of religious and racial identity, torn inside almost to the end by the great stakes launched during the century: the birth of scientific discourse and the explosion of rational thought against the nostalgia of miracles and all messianic expectations. Spinoza and the conflicts οf intolerance, Descartes and Sabbatai Zevi, the universe through the eyes of the new science that looks like a clockwork machine. It is an era of awaiting the end of the world in 1666 AD.
The places of journeys are changing rapidly in a rich scenography: a crossing of the Alps, the Jewish and Greek communities of Venice, Sabbatai Zevi’s Salonica, Padova with its famous university, Zante, the fall of Crete, Constantinople’s Wonderland, London of the ground-breaking science, landmarks of Germany, the Romanian Orthodox counties, the territory of Peter the Great in the steppes and overflowing rivers and finally Mount Athos, the holy mountain in Northern Greece that marks the beginning and the end of this mesmerizing journey…
The central hero of the book, Mathias Almossino, a charismatic child, lucky enough to survive in a hostile and dangerous environment, became a gifted man, who found in the wonders of medicine his own self. More than a famous doctor, Mathias is the homo universalis who straddles countries, languages, cultures, wandering through people and ideas.
A Few and One Nights
First Published by Patakis, Athens, March 2017
13thimpression (58,000 copies)
Greek Novel Prize of “Klepsydra” Literary Magazine
In the spring of 1909, the deposed Sultan Abdul Hamid II is exiled to Salonica. He will live secluded in a beautiful villa, where, according to the novel, he will tell, in a few nights’ time, his life story to a little girl. A nine-year-old boy will be listening to them in secret… Seventy years later, there will be another night, a whole life within one night.
A few and one nights is a love story and a life's story, an adventure for the quest of wealth and happiness, a novel rooted in a magical place, the Villa Carlo Allatini on the outskirts of Salonica, during the first half of the twentieth century, but most of all it is a book about the existential devastation caused by the twentieth century.
Moreover, A few and one nights is a novel that includes its own reflection, that tries to see what is behind the scene, which are its flaws, its motives, its expectations.
The King’s Retsina
First Published by Patakis, Athens, October 2019
6thimpression (30,000 copies)
An elderly man named Leontios Exarhos arrives at a Greek mountain village to retire in a manor house which belonged to his late wife. Leontios has three daughters from whom he’s been estranged. Once a successful and powerful contractor and entrepreneur, he now lives secluded in his house, with only the village idiot to keep him company, surrounded by his memories and writing letters addressed to his late wife. The village’s coffee house, where he drinks a lot of retsina and tells silly stories in an attempt to regain his long-lost happiness, is now his only release.
Alluding to Shakespeare’s King Lear and Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel, the novel addresses the gradual disintegration of the patriarchal model of power and the fear of an once mighty “king” against a fast-changing world which he can no longer handle, even when resorting to the long-forgotten happiness model of the Renaissance Man.
About one's soul
First Published by Patakis, Athens, October 2021
2thimpression (24,000 copies)
Byzantium, early 12th century. During the first years of Manuel Komnenos's reign, on a remote shore of Propontis, Stavrakios Kladas recalls his long life. A notary and a scribe, who spent his entire life copying and transcribing hundreds of manuscripts of noble and saintly people, he decides, free from all obligation hereafter, to write his own chronicle.
With his pen he recounts his life and ulfolds a story of adolescent loneliness, manuscripts, and intellectual dilemmas, persecutions, love and despair; the lives of the laymen under the Roman rule, the civilization of word and image and, above all, memory's impact; the existential angst of man, who tries to understand the celestial reign and at the same time has to fight for life on earth.
Through the book's pages, we discover a Byzantine Empire at a time when the dangers from East and West are lurking all around, but it is not the court intrigues or the bloody battles that prevail here, it is the light from the lamps in the scriptorium, where the scribes work long hours over the lives of the saints and philosophical treatises. We meet the great philosopher Michael Psellos, the theologian and saint Nicetas Stethatos, savants, monks, icon painters…
At the core of it all, following a pattern of eternal return, lie an enigmatic verse of a poem and a woman, as well as the most intimate cloth covering the hero's soul and substituting the torturous robe of the monk.
About one's soul is the intimate chronicle of how a scribe becomes a writer; it is a story about family, adventure and freedom, a book about a different Byzantium, a novel about the power of writing and the power of memory, about this inner urge that makes us rename the features of the world from scratch according to our own soul.