For those of us who don't read Greek, translations are vital and as summer is here and we start to think of heading for the sun it's a good time to consider what's available.
Michel Faïs’s From the Same Glass, the seventh contemporary Greek title from the Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies at the University of Birmingham has now appeared. It’s a collection of stories translated by Jane Nisselson Assimakopoulos which won the Greek State Literature Prize when it was first published in Greek in 2000. The stories - richly varied in form and voice - reflect some new aspects of contemporary Greece such as the in-migration from the Balkans in recent years.
Although it would be wrong to say that British publishers totally neglect contemporary Greek fiction (Arcadia publish Pavlos Matesis’ The Daughter, Marion Boyars Four Walls by Vangelis Hatziyannis, Harvill the slightly more best-selling Andreas Staikos (Les Liaisons Culinaires) and Petros Markaris (The Late-Night News), as with the French there’s a bit of a disparity in the numbers of British readers who will be flocking to these countries this summer and the ones who will be even aware of what is going on in the literatures of their destination countries. Birmingham University’s series of translations is therefore to be welcomed. It has issued since the mid-1990s a couple of early twentieth century Greek classics such as Stratis Doukas, A Prisoner of War’s Story (1929) and Dimitris Hatzis The End of Our Small Town (1953; sadly now out of print) as well as recent novels like Sotiris Dimitriou May Your Name be Blessed (the best of the modern bunch).
They don’t believe in mailing lists or e-lists and you can get these books only by downloading a form from the website [www.iaa.bham.ac.uk/publications/translations.htm] but it’s worth the doggedness.