Why I Killed My Best Friend

Amanda Michalopoulou, trans. from the Greek by Karen Emmerich. Open Letter, $13.95 paper (257p) ISBN 978-1-934824-74-0

In prolific contemporary Greek writer Michalopoulu's novel, nine-year-old Maria returns to Greece from Nigeria, and struggles to reintegrate into Athens life. One day, sprite-like Anna Horn enters her life: blond, beautiful, and a "white streak in her eyebrow". The two girls swear to be friends forever. She quite literally falls in love with bright, imperious Anna and her Gauloise-smoking ballerina mother, Antigone. Flash forward—Maria now 35 years old is working as a school teacher in Athens and in the midst of a confusing love affair with a "depressed homosexual." Her friendship with Anna suffered a rupture many years prior, after an incident referred to only as "that thing with the Albanian." Circumstances conspire to bring Anna and Maria together again, and the results are explosive. Michalopoulu's prose is daring and original, and Maria narrates with considerable fieriness and angst, but the plot hangs together haphazardly, lacking a central suspenseful thread. Still, the evocation of destructive female friendship is vivid, and the portrait of this generation of young Greeks compelling. (May)