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Culture

Novels by Zyranna Zateli to Add to Your Reading List

September 25, 2017

Greek novelist Zyranna Zateli was born in Sochos near Thessaloniki. She attended drama school 1976-79 and then worked as an actress and radio producer, before becoming a full-time writer. Her novels were awarded the Greek National Book Prize for Literature in 1994 and 2002 and have been translated into several languages.In 2010,Zateli was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Athens.The English translation of her novel At Twilight They Return: A Novel in Ten Tales was recently published by The Margellos World Republic of Letters. Translator David Connelly,an award-winning translator and former professor of translation studies in the School of English at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, has done a masterful job with Zateli’s compelling novel.

An ambitious, multigenerational saga, the book tells the story of Christoforos, who first weds Petroula, and then Eftha, followed, after her death, by Persa; of his sexually promiscuous son Hesychios and the many bastard children left on the doorstep following the untimely demise of many would-be daughters-in-law; and of the sisters, brothers, children, and grandchildren who inhabit the household and anexpanding history. With symbolism and magical realism, the complex family story unfolds non-sequentially in ten interrelated tales, in the new English language translation by Connolly. Considered Zateli’s masterpiece, the novel has a unique structure, style, and narrative voice, andblends classical mythology, folklore, and real historical events in a powerful way.A landmark of contemporary Greek literature, the novel was awarded the Greek State Prize for Best Novel in 1994, and is essential readingfor anyone interested in modern Greek novels. For those unfamiliar with Zateli’s work, At Twilight They Return is a great introduction to the celebrated author and her skill.

Zateli’slatest novel, Tetradio Oneiron (Notebook of Dreams),is a charming book. Available in Greek, it was released on July 11.In Notebook of Dreams, Zateli reveals the inspiration for her writing, the mythical images that create her magical universe; an enchanting journey into the world of her dreams, the primordial matter of her prose, with the enigmas from her subconscious that she chose to record, drawn from the chaos of waking life.

She writes in the book, loosely translated, “I was cuttingwood with an ax and put it in a basket. I liked this work, it pleased me to see that I handled the ax in comfort, almost like my dad, my uncles. There was a great encyclopedia with a red leather cover, and I gave it a whack! And after I cut it, not exactly in the middle, I started to browse through it. I saw pictures I had seen before and I was nostalgic, I was seeing other things. The Crucifixion (Christ’s I suppose?) Many times. The birds. The man in black. The tiny bones on a roof like in a sieve. Next needle and thread…In my sleep, for what reason?”

Also among her novels in Greek areKai me to Fos tou Lykou Epanerchontai (With the Light of the Wolf, They Return), 1993; Me to Paraxeno Onoma Ramanthis Erevous, O Thanatos Irthe Teleftaios (Under the Strange Name of Ramanthis Erevous: Death came Last), 2001;Me to Paraxeno Onoma Ramanthis Erevous, To Pathos Hiliades Fores(Under the Strange Name of Ramanthis Erevous: Passion Thousands of Times), 2009; and Idoni ston Krotafo (Pleasure on the Temple), 2011.

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