Landscape with Dog
and Other Stories
Ersi Sotiropoulos; translated by Karen Emmerich
published 2009 • 5 ½” x 7 ¾” • 166 pages
ISBN 9781566567732 • paperback • $15.00 •
"Greek author Sotiropoulos...depicts the hollow, deceptive civility hidden within intimate relationships in this capably translated story collection featuring lovers, married couples, brothers and parents. Other stories showcase the author's dark, effective devices...Each story demonstrates compelling depth and breadth, and involves heavy emotional stakes"
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
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“Let’s just say that Giacometti was setting out to draw a face. If he started with the chin, he would worry that he might never reach the nose. The longer he sketched the face, the harder he tried to offer a faithful representation of it, the more it resembled a skull. The only thing left was the gaze. So what he ended up drawing was a skull with a gaze."
Landscape with Dog and Other Stories is made up of countless such moments: transformations of the everyday, encounters between the known and the unknowable. Contemporary Athens wavers before us; the outlines of a sketch darken and blur; the face of a friend is at once beloved and strange. In Ersi Sotiropoulos’s prose, the slightest event, the slightest change in the quality of the light, can alter everything. Karen Emmerich brings perfectly into English the precise, vibrant movement of Sotiropoulos’s language, the mastery that has made her one of Greece’s most acclaimed writers. These stories will be praised for their flashes of beauty and their crackles of dark humor, but what makes them so memorable is something else, impossible to pin down, something like the gaze of the skull. At once familiar and troubling, compelling and unapproachable, Sotiropoulos’s stories give us a new way of seeing.
Acclaimed Greek writer Ersi Sotiropoulos is the author of ten works of fiction and a book of poetry. Her novel Zigzag through the Bitter Orange Trees was the first novel ever to win both the Greek national prize for literature and Greece’s preeminent book critics’ award. Sotiropoulos’s originality and elegant natural style have won her audiences in many languages; she has been a fellow at the University of Iowa's International Writing Program, at Schloss Wiepersdorf in Germany, at Princeton University, as well as at numerous other programs around the world. Her short fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in English in the Harvard Review, Circumference, SmokeLong Quarterly, Words Without Borders, Metamorphoses, Absinthe, and Two Lines.
Karen Emmerich is a translator of Modern Greek poetry and prose. Her translations include I’d Like by Amanda Michalopoulou (chosen for the top 25 translated books of 2008), Poems (1945–1971) by Miltos Sachtouris (nominated for a National Book Critics’ Circle Prize in Poetry and praised by Harold Bloom as revealing “not only the disturbing intensity of the original but also a remarkable diction and poetic pacing of her own”), and The Few Things I Know About Glafkos Thrassakis by Vassilis Vassilikos, which the New York Times called a “superb” translation of “a deft and witty reflection on writing as well as a moving portrait of the artist in as political exile.” She is the recipient of translation grants and awards from the NEA, PEN, and the Modern Greek Studies Association.
“I loved these stories. They are vintage Sotiropoulos: electric, vivid, sensual, surprising.”
“Ersi Sotiropoulos’s short stories are jaggedly sharp and unsettlingly beautiful—and they are like none other being written today in any language. You have to go back to Cesare Pavese to find short fiction from Europe this vivid, lived-in, urgent and artful; Sotiropoulos writes as if her life depended on it. 'Landscape with Dog and Other Stories' is a marvel.”
—Benjamin Anastas, author of "An Underachiever’s Diary"
"Ersi Sotiropoulos’s fiction owes a significant debt to her early work as a poet. Her stories in 'Landscape with Dog' are pure electric, with the passion, energized wit and inevitability of the lyric poem. The surfaces are well-constructed, the characters often quirky and troubling and, like lines from a favorite poem, stay with the reader year after year."
"Ersi Sotiropoulos, a virtuoso of postmodern Greek fiction, masters the short story in her collection, Landscape with Dog and Other Stories. Sotiropoulos... continues to use her deft sense of psychological insight and poetic language to give us portraits of the intimate and the abstract.
From the very first story, there is a familiarity that draws the reader in, that reminds of something comforting. But Sotiropoulos layers on top of that security a sense of foreboding. There is an ambiguity to her scenes and to her characters so that we are left to question our own instincts. She infuses the narrative of each story with a controlled terror that makes characters relationship seem like they could snap at any moment."
—Monica Carter, Three Percent
"Reading Ersi Sotiropoulos’s collection of short stories, 'Landscape With Dog', brings to mind the Surrealist masterpiece by Giorgio de Chirico, “Melancholy and Mystery of a Street.” Much like Chirico’s painting, most of Sotiropoulos’s stories are textual cul-de-sacs, seemingly expansive but surprisingly claustrophobic, tinged with dark corners, a series of streets that lead nowhere, leaving readers to puzzle over wonderfully unrealized moments and conclusions. There are no easily recognizable beginnings, middles, or ends in these stories."
— George Fragopoulos, The Quarterly Conversation
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