Literature Program

Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.


UB English Dept. & Hallwalls present

Amanda Michalopoulou

Exhibit X Fiction

Amanda Michalopoulou is the author of six novels, three short story collections, and a successful series of children's books. One of Greece's leading contemporary writers, Michalopoulou has won the country's highest literary awards, including the Revmata Prize, the Diavazo Award, and the Prize of Athens Academy, and has been nominated to and won several US based awards as well.

Michalopoulou's first book to be translated into English—a collection of stories called I'd Like—was nominated for the Best Translated Book Award (a BTBA) and won the International Literature Prize from the National Endowment for the Arts. It has been described by George Fragopoulos as a "metafictional work reminiscent of Calvino and Borges."

Now, award-winning Rochester based publisher, Open Letter Press, has worked with translator Karen Emmerich once again to make Michalopoulou's evocatively titled novel Why I Killed My Best Friend, available to an English speaking audience. Set against the turbulent landscape of Greek political and economic unrest, Michalopoulou's first translated novel explores the friendship of two cosmopolitan girls—one from Athens by way of Africa, the other from Paris—and how their love and competitiveness "translates" into a difficult relationship: what the narrator calls "odiodsamato." Loosely translated, "odiodsamato" means "frienemies."

A significant element of the novel explores our increasing global identities. Michalopoulou borrows Debord's notion of "psychogeography" and investigates how our sense of space, our sense of self, is constantly reinvented in the contemporary moment. For her, it is tangibly expressed in her writing life: many of her novels have been written at residencies in Germany, France, the USA, and Switzerland. As she reflects: "Like an actress, foreign countries give me the freedom to invent other identities—and yet I cannot escape my Greek identity. This combination is an ideal breeding ground for the imagination."

In all of Michalopoulou's work we are presented with a constellation of unusual stories, characterized as much by lyrical and hypnotic prose as by their movement between languages, peoples, and places. Marked by unerring cosmopolitanism, it's no surprise that Michalopoulou has been described as "one of Greece's most innovative young story tellers."
Exhibit X