At the PBS Newshour arts blog, Jeffrey Brown interviews Ersi Sotiropoulos, author of Zigzag through the Bitter-Orange Trees and Landscape with Dog and Other Stories. An excerpt:
ERSI SOTIROPOULOS: … What was astonishing for me was to see was a middle-aged woman like me, well dressed, with a certain dignity, with a small stick looking through the garbage. Also hiding, in a way. Feeling ashamed. Looking behind her back to make sure nobody was observing her.
JEFFREY BROWN: Because she was formerly well off, middle class?
ERSI SOTIROPOULOS: Yes, yes of course.
JEFFREY BROWN: How is what’s happening come into your writing?
ERSI SOTIROPOULOS: First, it comes into my life because I have to move from this apartment.
JEFFREY BROWN: Move because of economic reasons?
ERSI SOTIROPOULOS: Because we cannot afford the rent any more. To my writing, I think I am writing the way I was always writing throughout my life. But it’s more difficult to concentrate now.
JEFFREY BROWN: Because?
ERSI SOTIROPOULOS: Because I have this feeling of almost physical oppression, sometimes suddenly during the day, like an earthquake is approaching. When you go out, you see people begging. Now beggars usually don’t ask for money. They usually ask “Please can you buy me something to eat?” After awhile, I’ve found I’ve stopped giving things. I’ve become selfish. Sometimes I pretend I’m talking on the phone. It’s not that I don’t have the money. It is opening up the purse and knowing there will be another, and then another and another who approaches me.
JEFFREY BROWN: Do you see it having an effect on society, the cohesion?
ERSI SOTIROPOULOS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. At the beginning I thought the crisis could be beneficial, in a way. That it would get rid of many silly things. The idiotic consumerism, the fast lifestyles. I thought it would be a chance to rediscover things like friendship. But I was wrong. It was an illusion. I mean the crisis empties the wallets as well as the souls.
Read in full here.