Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

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.