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Leading Greek novelist Amanda Michalopouou to read at Hallwalls tonight

Leading Greek fiction writer Amanda Michalopouou will visit Buffalo today for a series of appearances at the University at Buffalo culminating in an Exhibit X Fiction and Prose Series reading at 7 p.m. tonight at Hallwalls Cinema, 341 Delaware Avenue (at Tupper Street) in Buffalo.  The event is free and open to the public. 

Michalopouou, who cites Laurence Sterne, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, and Jean Rhys among her literary influences, as well as the Greek writers Margarita Karapanou,  Ilias Papadimitrakopoulos, and the poet Miltos Sachtouris, is the author of six novels, two short story collections, a successful series of children's books, and has won several of Greece's highest literary awards, including the Revmata Award for her story “Life is Colorful Outside” (1994) and the Diavazo Award for her highly-regarded novel "Jantes, Wishbone Memories"(1996).

The American translation (by Karen Emmerich) of her story collection  "I’d Like" (Dalkey Archive Press) won the International Literature Prize from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2008. The same book was also nominated for the “Best Translated Book Award” (University of Rochester) that same year.  Her 2013 novel "Why I Killed my Best Friend," also translated by Emmerich ( a comparative literature professor at the University of Oregon), will be published this month by the University of Rochester's Open Letter Books.  It has been described as a narrative about the friendship of two cosmopolitan girls—one from Athens by way of Africa, the other from Paris—and how their love and competitiveness “translates” into a difficult relationship: what the narrator calls ‘odiodsamato.” 

As a Greek writer who has spent significant portions of her adult life in Germany, France, Switzerland and the U.S. , Michalopoulou's fiction explores Situationist theorist Guy Debord’s notion of “psychogeography,” investigating how our operative senses of space, identity, and self, are constantly being reinvented in the technology-warped contemporary moment. "Like an actress, foreign countries give me the freedom to invent other identities – and yet I cannot escape my Greek identity," Michalopouou has commented on her own work, "This combination is an ideal breeding ground for the imagination." But she cautions, "Characters are the vehicles of ideas, but they have to work as characters. If not, you’re writing theory, not literature."

When the writer George Fragopoulos interviewed Michalopoulou in 2008, he asked her about the tendency of critics to identify her work as "non-linear" writing and  "metafiction."  She responded: "I always felt that my life, and everyone’s lives nowadays, is not linear, and that whenever we do something this something is broken up by another activity or event; there isn’t such a thing as a linear life anymore, and fiction always imitates life, and it is interesting to do the same in fiction, for me anyway. And the way I narrate stories is in a very Greek way, a very southern-Mediterranean pattern."

--R.D. Pohl

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