Posts Tagged ‘Ersi Sotiropoulos’

“Even in Paradise, Someone Will Be Bluffing”: New Ersi Sotiropoulos

Friday, March 29th, 2013

There’s a fantastic new story by Ersi Sotiropoulos, translated by Chris Markham, up in the spring 2013 issue of Kenyon Review Online. Check out the audio feature to hear Ersi read some of the original Greek.

And if you enjoy that, of course we recommend Landscape with Dog, Ersi’s stunning collection of stories, translated by Karen Emmerich and published by us!

Keep an eye out this spring for the paperback release of the extraordinary Zigzag through the Bitter-Orange Trees (trans. Peter Green), the first work of Ersi’s to appear in English, and truly a contemporary classic, a novel I’m still thinking about six, seven years after first reading it. It’s been our enormous honor to get to publish Ersi Sotiropoulos in English.

Ersi Sotiropoulous on literature and the crisis in Greece

Wednesday, December 26th, 2012

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.

Plato in New York

Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

Vicki James Yiannias has written a wonderful piece in Greek News on Ersi Sotiropoulos and her “Plato in New York” and her recent doings.

“… [A]n unusual, riveting, and groundbreaking presentation in the Living Room at the Gershwin Hotel on October 11 was described by Sotiropoulos as a “hybrid of a novel that uses fictional narrative, dialogue, and visual poetry”.  “Plato in New York” was perhaps a “first” such hybrid by a Greek author.  But it was not the only “first” from this acclaimed Greek author.  Zigzag through the Bitter Orange Trees, one of her twelve books of fiction, was the first novel ever to receive Greece’s two most important literary awards, the Greek State Prize for Literature and Greece’s preeminent Book Critics Award (2000).  More professional tributes to Sotiropoulos’ work: her last novel, “Eva”, a young woman’s odyssey through the backstreets of Athens on Christmas Eve, won the Athens Academy prize for best novel in 2011, and her book of stories “Feel blue, dress in red” has just been short-listed for Greece’s National Book Award.

Sotiropoulos, who lives in Athens and was Artist in Residence at the Gershwin Hotel from September 6- October 18 (and Director’s Guest there in 2010), explained to the GN that “Plato in New York” used fictional narrative, dialogue and visual poetry, was a way of exploring the identity of the city through analogies between two distinct and very different times and cultures, New York now and Plato’s Athens.  “The idea is to portray New York as Plato’s cave, a complex place where it is almost impossible to separate the real from the virtual”, she says, “Plato wrote, ‘How can you prove whether at this moment we are sleeping, and all our thoughts are a dream; or whether we are awake, and talking to one another in the waking state?’  It seems like the eruption of the past in the present, but it is not so simple.  With the virtual devouring big chunks of the real, apparent these days in the financial world and the media, Plato’s questions seem as relevant as ever.” Read more

Also, for a Greek perspective on the current European economic crisis, see these excerpts of Ersi’s piece for the BBC.

 

Women & publishing, women & translation, publishing women in translation

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

VIDA has just released a much-discussed report on the ratios of male and female contributors in prominent publications, including, for book reviews, percentages of books by men and women reviewed. At Slate Meghan O’Rourke has a good summary discussion; see also Percival Everett’s thoughts here. I was particularly interested to find that the New York Review of Books, which I read almost cover to cover every issue, publishes male to female contributors at a distressing rate of 5.9 to 1, and only about 20% of the books they review are by women—all this distressing in itself & distressing because, despite my idea of myself as someone deeply attuned to these issues, I never noticed.

At the Literary Saloon, Michael Orthofer has done a quick tally of translations published in 2010, according to Three Percent’s highly useful translation database (for which we should all thank Chad Post, yet again!). Orthofer notes that: “in 2010 slightly less than 20 per cent of the books listed there are by women: i.e. there’s a huge sex-imbalance in terms of what gets translated.” This is something I’ve wondered about, but unfortunately only idly. Belletrista—”a site promoting women-authored literature from around the world”— had once written Clockroot, after reviewing several of our titles, to inquire about the translation rates of women writers vs. men writers, and I was able to say nothing more informative than that I too would be interested to see some figures. A rough scan of the 2009 titles—not scientifically done, I’m sorry—comes out with about the same ratio as Orthofer’s for 2010, somewhere around 20%. This surprises me in that most translations are published by smaller presses—indies and university presses—whom I would have thought particularly attentive to such issues. Perhaps gender often gets relegated to more mainstream publishing discussions (?), and we as small, internationally focused presses can become more concerned about aesthetic and linguistic/cultural diversity, putting gender issues to the side? I’m not sure.

When Clockroot first got going, behind scenes we often joked about how without meaning to we seemed to be only publishing women writers: early on we had signed only works by Ersi Sotiropoulos, Margarita Karapanou, Adania Shibli, Uzma Aslam Khan. I suppose that, all things being equal, we seem to gravitate toward women writers (should I note for the record that both Pam and I are in fact women?). I believe that Interlink has done a fine job publishing women writers through its twenty years—though I don’t have any figures on hand, and it would take some time to gather them (but I think of the involvement of Salma Khadra Jayyusi, and Interlink’s devotion to prominent writers such as Sahar Khalifeh and Sefi Atta). As it is, of the thirteen books on Clockroot’s list, eight are by women, five by men (two of these were originally written in English, both by women). This includes of course multiple works by repeat authors. It’s a small sample, but it is nice to feel ahead of the game.

I’d be interested in hearing from translators and editors of presses that publish translations about this issue. I suspect—without any data—that most of the submissions we receive at Interlink & Clockroot are works by men. But how many more? What role do agencies, grants, and foreign cultural ministries play in promoting men vs. women writers? How do translators interact with this issue? I myself have often wondered if there may be more women translating men than men translating women—I have no basis for thinking this other than again, a vague impression. What have reviewers noticed, both at larger and smaller venues? What role do sales play, or perceptions of which books sell? Note, for instance, this Guardian article (which mentions Uzma Aslam Khan) on “Pakistan’s literary boy’s club,” which wonders why

the media portrayal of Pakistan’s “new crop of literary stars” has disturbingly begun to focus its attention on what western reviewers are calling “the top four”: Daniyal Mueenuddin, Mohsin Hamid, Nadeem Aslam and Mohammed Hanif. Pakistani women have been writing for just as long and just as much as the men, so why is the “new crop” being portrayed by the western media as a boys’ club?

Notes for a future discussion, then? Many thanks to all those who have done the good work of gathering the figures mentioned.

—Hilary

Absinthe recommends Rien ne va plus

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Absinthe 13 showed up on my step last week, with not only what looks like an extremely tempting selection of Romanian literature, but a warm note on Rien ne va plus in the “Absinthe recommends” section.  I’ve been overdue to give Absinthe a well-deserved nod and thank you on this blog—for those of you who don’t yet know the magazine, it is a wonderful venue for translations from European literatures, and reviews thereof, and we at Clockroot were honored that it was one of the first places to welcome Ersi Sotiropoulos’s short stories in English, publishing the story “Stella,” which would later be collected into Landscape with Dog.  Check it out—

An interview with Ersi Sotiropoulos & Karen Emmerich

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Greek News Online offers an interview with Ersi Sotiropoulos and Karen Emmerich on the stories in Landscape with Dog (conducted while Ersi was a guest at the sixth International Poetry Festival in Granada, Nicaragua).

Greek News: What do you think is most significant about [the stories] as works of art? What is significant about Ersi as a Greek writer/international writer?

Karen Emmerich: It’s hard for me to think about Ersi’s work in those terms; I just think of her as a writer.  She cares so deeply about language –and not just the Greek language.  Yes, she can spend months writing and rewriting the same paragraph in Greek until it’s just right, just how she wants it.  But she also cares just as deeply about her works as they move into other languages, of which she happens to speak many.

For me it sometimes seems like this impulse to think of writers as representatives of their language or literary tradition — Ersi as a literary ambassador of Greece, in a way — confines them to too small and constricting a box.  For sure, Ersi’s writing is often wrapped up in the lived reality of Greece.  But she also reads widely in many languages, travels widely, and is part of literary conversations that are happening across languages as well.

Landscape with Dog: “Her deft sense of psychological insight and poetic language… give us portraits of the intimate and the abstract”

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Landscape with Dog and Other Stories is featured today at Three Percent, as one of the works of fiction longlisted for the Best Translated Book Award—here’s an excerpt:

From the very first story, there is a familiarity that draws the reader in, that reminds of something comforting. But Sotiropoulos layers on top of that security a sense of foreboding. There is an ambiguity to her scenes and to her characters so that we are left to question our own instincts. She infuses the narrative of each story with a controlled terror that makes characters’ relationships seem like they could snap at any moment. Yet, she never gives us that release or makes it that easy for the reader, that definitive. The beginnings, middles and ends are blurry and we are left to decide where the story began and ended. This is not to say that the stories in this collection are not definitive, they are. They present the moments in life that fall into the grey area, that at one point may look white and then years later, pitch black. This requires a very deliberate prose, a deep understanding of narrative tension and skilled working knowledge of human behavior. Even more impressive is that Karen Emmerich’s translation lets all of Sotiropoulos’ style and depth showcase itself in a sparse fluidity. …

Read the rest here

This week at Clockroot: Two readings by Ersi Sotiropoulos and Karen Emmerich, and one art opening

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Please join us!

On Tuesday, February 9th, Ersi Sotiropoulos will read from Landscape with Dog and Other Stories with translator Karen Emmerich, at the Gallatin School at NYU. The reading is at 6, reception and signing at 7. For more information and location, see here.

On Thursday, February 11th, Book Culture and Columbia University’s Hellenic studies program will host a reading and discussion with Karen, Ersi, and professor Karen Van Dyck, celebrating Clockroot’s three new translations from the Greek: Landscape with Dog, and Margarita Karapanou‘s Rien ne va plus and Kassandra and the Wolf. 6:30 pm, at 536 West 112th St (between Broadway & Amsterdam), NYC—see here.

And up in our neck of the woods, artist Ihrie Means—whose fantastic paintings are the cover art for Kassandra and the Wolf and Rien ne va plus—has an opening at the Cummington Community House, Saturday, February 13, 6 to 9 pm.

Landscape with Dog at the Quarterly Conversation

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

A wonderful review of Landscape with Dog and Other Stories by George Fragopoulos at the Quarterly Conversation.

I think this is the best part of being a publisher: reading these responses, magically getting to see works one had thought one knew inside out anew.

Reading Ersi Sotiropoulos’s collection of short stories, Landscape With Dog, brings to mind the Surrealist masterpiece by Giorgio de Chirico, “Melancholy and Mystery of a Street.” Much like Chirico’s painting, most of Sotiropoulos’s stories are textual cul-de-sacs, seemingly expansive but surprisingly claustrophobic, tinged with dark corners, a series of streets that lead nowhere, leaving readers to puzzle over wonderfully unrealized moments and conclusions. There are no easily recognizable beginnings, middles, or ends in these stories.

Read in full here.

2010 Best Translated Book Award: Fiction Longlist

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

landscapewebThis week the folks at Three Percent announced their top 25 translated books of the year. We’re so pleased that our most recent book, Ersi Sotiropoulos‘s Landscape with Dog, translated by Karen Emmerich, is among the books chosen. You can get it here, or get it from your favorite bookstore. I hope that’s not too old-fashioned to say. Three Percent is directing people to the wonderful Idlewild bookstore in New York, for any of the honored books.

Speaking of Landscape, stories from the collection are out recently in The Literary Review, an international journal of contemporary writing, and in the new issue of Two Lines, Wherever I Lie Is Your Bed, from the Center for the Art of Translation, both of which are making for great bedtime reading in our house. (By which I mean nothing other than reading. Ah, to be a student, or a ten-year-old, and read all day long.)

—Pam