Read Margarita Karapanou!

margarita-karapanou

I just got finished reading Margarita Karapanou’s novel The Sleepwalker for a review for the Review of Contemporary Fiction.

It’s one of the most exciting things I’ve read this year. Read it.

I asked to review The Sleepwalker pretty much on the strength of the incredible praise for Karapanou in the panel that Hilary Plum arranged for The Quarterly Conversation. I’m so glad I did. The book is a little like Thomas Pynchon in its surreal realism, although it feels modernist to me in the precision and originality of the prose. It also reminds me a bit of a naive novel, as if Karapanou just decided to pick up a pen one day and started writing. It doesn’t feel overbaked or purposeful or part of any school. It’s more sui generis than anything.

Here’s what novelist Amanda Michalopoulou said about The Sleepwalker in Hilary’s panel:

I was 19 years old, a student of French literature, when I read The Sleepwalker. I realized then that books can trap you in a different kind of reality, their own, which can be slower, stranger, more important that the reality we experience. This was a revelation for me. The other revelation was that people in novels like hers talk about the important things in life without statements, they just have casual dialogs that appear normal on the page and yet are basic truths that make you feel a bit dizzy, like you had a lot of wine. This feeling has never changed. Whenever I go back to Kassandra, for instance, one of my favorite books, I meet the same surreal figure, this little girl, with her extravagant friends who talk like we talk in dreams. And then I am reassured that another reality is possible.

Here’s a review in Words Without Borders.

Here’s an interview with Karapanou’s English-language translator, Karen Emmerich, on the author.

Here’s George Fragopoulos on Karapanou.

As I understand it, her other two novels–Kassandra and the Wolf and Rien Ne Va Plus are even better.


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Note that Rien Ne Va Plus is available for the Kindle, though neither of the other two titles presently are. Can there be any good reason for making one of the books in a newly-translated author’s catalogue into an e-book, but not the others? Is this typical of Amazon, perhaps testing the waters for interest before going to the (additional, though surely minimal) expense of Kindle-fying the other titles?

Seems like the perfect book to inaugurate this years patio season.

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