On HTMLGIANT, M Kitchell calls Karapanou’s Kassandra and the Wolf “basically perfect” in his round-up of 2010 reading here. Happy Holidays from Clockroot, and — if you’re looking — a Karapanou collection makes a great New Year’s Gift!
Archive for December, 2010
The site Babelmed has a new interview with Adania Shibli, author of Touch and 2011′s We Are All Equally Far From Love, on the “new generation” of Palestinian writers, activism & literature, exile & literature, and Darwish. (I can’t help but saying that I’d rather not have descriptions like “young, bright-eyed lady”—but check the interview out regardless!)
An interesting piece up at Publishing Perspectives on Dedalus Books, “the most literary press in Europe,” with reflections on funding, digitization and what it means to publish with a mission. As publisher Eric Lane says:
“We exist to do the difficult things of publishing,” he says, adding: “If a small literary publisher cannot be an alternative to commercial publishing what publishers can?”
Hilary’s just reviewed two extremely different books—Khaled Mattawa‘s poetry collection Tocqueville and O Fallen Angel, by Kate Zambreno, up on the Kenyon Review and the Quarterly Conversation, respectively.
And now a PS from Hilary: Also up at the Quarterly Conversation, a review by former Clockroot intern A’Dora Phillips, of Abdelfattah Kilito’s The Clash of Images. Check out all of the great Issue 22 of TQC.
I was hesitant to blog about this for the embarrassing reason that I can’t even wrap my mind around the upcoming holidays. But once I do, surely I will want resources such as Salonica’s Holiday Guide, recommending new international literature for gift giving. Interlink’s The Calligrapher’s Secret, by German-speaking Syrian-born author Rafik Schami, translated by Anthea Bell, is here under epics (“exquisite storytelling,” “a novel to be savored,” PW has just reported). And Karapanou’s The Sleepwalker, translated by Karen Emmerich, is recommended under dark comedies, as a “holiday winner.” Many thanks to Monica (for all her work year-round).
If we were to have a discussion in our comments some day (other than the usual blackjack casino tips and Cialis discounts, which I delete, after appreciating), I’d like it to be of whether The Sleepwalker is a comedy. The Library of Congress categorized it as “Humorous Fiction,” at which Karen, Pam, and I all marveled. It has passages that are truly profoundly funny. But over all I find just devastating—hard even to keep looking at, as Pam says. Dark comedy seems indeed closer, but still… I feel it just slays me. Are there levels of comedy, tragedy, comedy, tragedy, and a book may be named by the reader’s ability to move finally, with great difficulty, to an ultimately comedic darkness? Hmmm. (Discuss?)
Reading the late Karapanou’s (1946–2008) dizzying novel, which won the French prize for best foreign novel, is like sleepwalking, as the title suggests. The story takes place on a small, unnamed Greek island steeped in intrigue, sexuality, deception, mysticism, and crawling with cheeky expatriate artists. Manolis is the police officer who governs the town but more than that, he is the handsome, slim-hipped, tortured, and violent son of God. Each chapter, told from the perspective of Manolis and the various ex-pats, is a short story of its own, ranging in style from magic realism to horror. The sum of these parts is an engrossing novel that entrances readers, enabling them to understand its cast of motley characters’ incomprehensible actions–many played out in dreams. The tenor of Karapanou’s (Kassandra and the Wolf) final novel is best summed up by Manolis himself, as he observes the group of characters who come and go from his island: “The others just drank and cried and used art to disguise their hopelessness; for them art was the last stop, their final excuse to live a little longer.”
*(Her second novel, not her final, but that’s fine—)