Alexis Stamatis: ‘I read to find myself again and to re-examine my place in the world’

Brought to Book Q&A: Greek novelist and poet on Emily Dickinson and Robert Mouzil

Alexis Stamatis: ‘There is a bunch of very important Greek authors, which will never be known abroad unless the Greek state stops treating the publishing industry as something useless.’ Photograph: alexistamatis2.blogspot.ie

Alexis Stamatis: ‘There is a bunch of very important Greek authors, which will never be known abroad unless the Greek state stops treating the publishing industry as something useless.’ Photograph: alexistamatis2.blogspot.ie

 

Alexis Stamatis is a Greek novelist, poet and playwright. He is best known for his 2000 bestselling novel Bar Flaubert, which has been translated into several languages including English.

What was the first book to make an impression on you?

The Odyssey.

What was your favourite book as a child?

Oliver Twist. There were issues of identification , then.

And what is your favourite book or books now?

As a multi-tasker I am also a multi-reader. I like many different styles, many different authors from various periods….

What is your favourite quotation?

“Work on a good piece of writing proceeds on three levels: a musical one, where it is composed; an architectural one, where it is constructed; and finally, a textile one, where it is woven.” Walter Benjamin, One Way Street And Other Writings

Who is your favourite fictional character?

Hamlet.

Who is the most under-rated Irish author?

Seosamh Mac Grianna.

Which do you prefer - ebooks or the traditional print version?

Print. The printed book is such an elegant and practical artefact, there is no way that it will ever vanish.

What is the most beautiful book you own?

A bended rare copy of The Woman of Zakythos by the most important Greek author Dionysius Solomos.

Where and how do you write?

I live in the centre of Athens under Lykavittos Hill. I write on the PC and then print then correct, rewrite, print, correct etc.

What book changed the way you think about fiction?

The Man without Qualities by Robert Mouzil. It was a nuclear bomb. I was extremely impressed. Joyce’s Ulysses finished the job.

What is the most research you have done for a book?

I spent a lot of time travelling around Europe for my book Bar Flaubert which was later published in the UK by Arcadia books. The interesting part is that things which happened on the spot influenced the plot of the story.

What book influenced you the most?

Hamlet.

What book would you give to a friend’s child on their 18th birthday?

Emily Dickinson’s poems.

What book do you wish you had read when you were young?

The Man without Qualities by Robert Mouzil.

What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Write, write, write.

What weight do you give reviews?

It depends on the reviewer.

Where do you see the publishing industry going?

In Greece it suffers deeply. Nobody cares about the author and the only books that sell well are Barbara Cartland’s equivalents. However there is a bunch of very important Greek authors, which will never be known abroad unless the Greek state stops treating the publishing industry as something useless.

What writing trends have struck you lately?

The nonfiction fiction.

What lessons have you learned about life from reading?

None. I read to find myself again and to re-examine my place in the world.

What has being a writer taught you?

Nothing is eternal.

Which writers, living or dead, would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Emily Dickinson and Herman Broch. Anne Sexton and Robert Mouzil. James Joyce and Nora. Wallace Stevens. William Shakespeare if he is the one. And the other William of course, William Burroughs.

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