22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Dimosthenis Kourtovik

Dimosthenis Kourtovik was born in Athens in 1948. He studied biology in his native city and in Germany, where he also worked as a director, playwright and actor at the Greek Theatre in Stuttgart. In 1986 he concluded his doctoral studies at the Univesity of Wroclaw, Poland, with a dissertation on the origin of Human Sexuality. In the 90’s he taught human sexuality and behavioural studies at the University of Crete.

Kourtovik made a name for himself as a feature writer, in particular with his literary criticism. He writes for the most important newspapers in his country, including the Athenian newspaper »Ta Nea« as well as for a few foreign papers. In addition, he has translated more than 60 novels and essays about philosophy, history, aesthetics, etc. from eight different languages into Greek. With his translation of Peter Høeg’s bestseller »Miss Smilla’s Sense of Snow«, he helped the genre of the detective story to obtain acceptance in Greece. Since 1979 he has published stories, novels, essays and aphorisms, as well the dictionary »Hellēnes metapolemikoi syngrapheis« (1995; tr: Present Greek writers). It is the first reference book on post-war Greek literature to be made available in the German language (»Griechische Schriftsteller der Gegenwart«, 2000) and to feature a detailed commentary on the life and work of modern Greek authors. Kourtovik’s work aims to deconstruct myth as part of cultural tradition and present-day reality in Greece. His debut »Tris chiliades chiliometra« (1980; tr: Three thousand kilometres) is about Greek expatriates in Germany and tells stories that are a far cry from the usual clichés associated with migrant workers; »O teleutaois seismos« (1985; tr: The last earthquake) and »To elliniko fthinoporo tis Eva-Anita Bengtson« (1987; tr: The Greek autumn of Eva-Anita Bengtson), a parody of a detective story, also testify to this. Kourtovik’s novel »I nostalgia ton drakon« (2000; Ü: The nostalgia of the dragons) is the story of Professor Drakas, Director of the Athenian Museum for Early History, who has been tortured by the Greek junta for sympathizing with the Communists. He has to travel through Europe with the daughter of his former torturer to recover a mummy that was stolen from his museum. The search for the »Ibykus« mummy becomes an odyssey through European history, but also an excursion through literary genres from the epistolary novel to the gothic novel to the thriller. In his recent novel »Ti Zitoun oi Barbaroi« (tr: What the Barbarians are searching for), a literary conference/competition is the opportunity for the Greek Chryssikos Argyris, the Serbian Zlatan Zouric, the Bulgarian Cyrill Stoyanov and some other literary representatives of the Balkan states to meet in the (fictitious) town Tyrimmeia in the Greek province of Macedonia. The three best texts, the Greek, the Bulgarian and the Serbian one, deal with the same subject but from a different aspect: the bloody attack on a village on the border between the three countries in 1913, during a marriage in the time of the Balkan-War II. And then it becomes clear how thin the facade of international friendship and how deep old national hostilities can still be.

Today Dimosthenis Kourtovik lives in Athens.

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