23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Ersi Sotiropoulos

belongs to the avant-garde of the Greek literary world.  She was born in Patras in 1953, studied Philosophy and Cultural Anthropology in Florence and went on to work in the Greek embassy in Rome. She published her debut novel ‘I fársa’ (Engl: The Trick) in 1982, in which she describes life in a strict patriarchal society. The novel centres around two women who make anonymous telephone calls to arbitrary men and expose them, as representatives of their sex, to public ridicule on behalf of the whole male world. Readers and critics gave the book an enthusiastic reception.  Since her successful debut, Sotiropoulos, who also writes columns and screenplays, has published further novels, short story collections and poetry in her home country.  So far only her fifth novel ‘Zig-Zag stis Nerantzies’ has been published in German translation, as ‘Bittere Orangen’ in 1999.  In 2000 the original text became the first Greek work of prose to receive the country’s two most important literary awards: the Greek state prize for literature and the prize of the literature magazine ‘Diavaso’.

‘Zig-Zag stis Nerantzies’ traces the fortunes of a group of young people, whose destinies follow winding paths to become interlinked. They include the mysteriously ill Lia, her unemployed brother Sid, the strange male nurse Sotiris and the dreamy girl Nina.  When Lia feels badly treated by her nurse in an Athens hospital she asks her brother to teach him a lesson.  Sid then steals into the life of the lone wolf Sotiris.  However, an unusual friendship arises between the two men, contrary to Lia’s plan.  Sid is pulled in to a grotesque murder plot by the nurse, with which he intends to get rid of the twelve year-old Nina, who knows an embarrassing secret.  For Nina, one of the most moving characters in the novel, writing is the only way for her to articulate herself and to be able to escape the “idiots and zombies”. Sotiropoulos‘s novel, whose original title means literally ‘Zigzag under the Seville Oranges’, thrives on its obscure black humour and passion for the absurd.  The author describes life in a society between tradition and modernity using precise and unsentimental language, and tells of the search for love and closeness as well as of the impossibility of sharing one’s feelings.  Continually changing perspectives emphasize the isolation of Sotiropoulos‘s heroes. The author lives in Athens.

© international literature festival berlin


Diakopes choris ptoma
Athen, 1980

Eortastiko triimero sta Jannena
Athen, 1982

Heortastiko triēmero sta Giannena
Athen, 1982

Hē pharsa
Athen, 1982

Athen, 1988

Athen, 1992

Ho basilias tu phliper
Athen, 1998

Ho zestos kyklos
Hellēnika Grammata
Athen, 2000

Bittere Orangen
München, 2001
Übersetzung: Doris Wille

Übersetzerin: Doris Wille