Jorgi Jatromanolakis was born in Saros on the island of Crete in 1940. He studied Classical Philology in Athens and then began his postgraduate studies at King’s College London, where he completed a doctorate degree. He initially worked as a high school teacher. Since 1975 he has been teaching at the University of Athens, where today, after a guest professorship at Harvard University from 1979 to 1980, he lectures in Classical Philology.
Jatromanolakis published his first prose texts in the seventies. His literary breakthrough came in 1982 with the novel ‘Istoría’ (Engl:’A History of a Vendetta’, 1991) for which he received the Greek National Award and the Nikos Kasantzakis Award. Two novels followed: ‘Anofelés diíjima’ (1993;Engl: ‘A Report of a Murder’, 1995) and ‘Erotikón’ (1995;Engl: ‘Eroticon’, 2001). His more recent novels, ‘Stin kiláda ton Athinón’ (2000; Engl: In the Valley of Athens) and „Elinas kleos“ (2002), have yet to be translated into German. Jatromanolakis also writes poems and scientific texts on Classical Philology and New Greek Literature.
In ‘A Report of a Murder’ two physicists are shot by a graduate student during a seminar on the island of Crete. The assailant then flees to the mountains and commits suicide. His corpse is discovered by a shepherd months later. In formal terms, the text is arranged as a scientific report by an anonymous narrator who attempts to reconstruct the murders on the basis of newspaper articles, autopsy reports, photographs and evidence gathered at the scene of the crime. However, out of the mysterious and inexplicable nature of the acts, emerges the mythical strength of ancient legends, which still seem to be present in the holy mountains of Crete.
Jorgi Jatromanolakis’s books are characterised by their complexity and rigid adherence to form. The modern, sometimes not easily accessible language of his texts is animated and enriched by stylistic elements from Greek literary traditions. “If the first sentence of a crime thriller already reveals the identity of the assailant, then the author must be aiming at something other than nail-biting suspense”, wrote Ulrich M. Schmid on ‘A Report of a Murder’. It is not the sequence of events that forms the actual core of Jatromanolakis’s stories, but rather an investigation into narrative perspective and the search for moral categories of judgment. The fact that many of his works are set in Greece also proves to provide the background encompassed within the inseperatability of the characters from the environs in which they live. Their history, tradition and myths have become part of their personality.
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