Zigzag Through the Bitter-Orange Trees

Ersi Sotiropoulos, Author, Peter Green, Translator , trans. from the Greek by Peter Green. Interlink $24.95 (234p) ISBN 978-1-56656-661-2

At the heart of this darkly comic story told in four quirky voices is a young woman named Lia, who lies dying in a contemporary Athens hospital that's surrounded by bitter orange trees; the fruit falls and rots as she wastes away. Two lonely men frequent her room: a sadistic male nurse named Sotiris, and Lia's misanthropic younger brother, Sid. Lia imparts to Sid snippets of possibly fictitious family history and asks him to punish Sotiris for tormenting her. Socially inept Sid conceives and carries out an elaborate payback scam, but as a result becomes entangled with Sotiris and his family. The fourth voice is that of a child named Nina, who loses her innocence but none of her determination in an encounter with Sotiris. Increasingly intricate parallels and connections among the characters become political, cultural, outrageous and, ultimately, hopeful. Despite a few disappointing passages of hackneyed realism (a telemarketer with a phonetically rendered Chinese accent, for instance), the story, aided by Green's fluid translation, moves quickly. Sotiropoulos describes shame and alienation so effectively that the narration feels voyeuristic—in a good way. (Nov.)

Reviewed on: 09/25/2006
Release date: 11/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 234 pages - 978-1-56656-937-8
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