European Union Prize for Literature

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15 May 2018

Interview with Kallia Papadaki

On 4 May, Greek readers had the opportunity to meet 2017 EUPL Greek winner Kallia Papadaki after a panel discussing EUPL, Literature and Europe at the Thessaloniki Book Fair. Kallia was accompanied on stage by 2017 EUPL Serbian winner Darko Tuševljaković. EUPL took this opportunity to interview Kallia about her book and her experience as an EUPL winner. 

Dendrites is a novel about the everlasting diaspora- its ever-present hopes and delusions- the need to belong to a place that provides you with safety.

What was the trigger that made you decide to write about immigrants?

Now that I think about it, in retrospect, the trigger was the immigrant inflows to Europe and the prolonged economic crisis in Greece. How mere need, the quest for survival forces a man to immigrate to distant foreign lands and start from scratch. However, I didn’t want to write about the 21st century. I moved in time and space and focused on the first waves of Greek- and not only- immigration to the United States, that of the 1920’s. Dendrites is a novel about the everlasting diaspora- its ever-present hopes and delusions- the need to belong to a place that provides you with safety.

If you were one of your book character, which one would it be? Why?

In every single character I find bits and pieces of myself: a word I’ve heard, a gesture I’ve seen, a fleeting thought, things I haven’t done or haven’t said, but they have lived within me for a long period of time.

What’s the language you would love to be translated into? Why?

I guess, English, so the book can reach all those generations of Greek-Americans who strived in difficult times to make a living, successfully or not.

Is there a specific topic that you would dream to write about, or a specific genre  that you would dream to write in?

Not really, because inspiration comes out of nowhere and then transforms into form and context. That prime idea and consequently drive is a matter of right timing, being open to the world, its stories and all possibilities.

Which part of yourself did you bring to the story? (Biographical facts, a friend or a   family member has inspired you for a character, etc.)

I looked back into my years studying in the States. How I viewed the country, how I took everything in, how everything made such a big impression on me at that time.

Has EUPL opened new horizons for you? (Literary events in other countries, selling rights for translations into new languages, networking with other winners, etc.)

Greek is rather a “small” language, audience and market wise. EUPL has given me the chance to have my book translated into several languages and the opportunity to travel in Europe and around the world promoting my book.

Have you had a chance to read books by other EUPL winners – from 2016 or  earlier years, especially those coming from your own country?

Yes, quite a few and especially the ones coming from my own country.

What kind of reaction did you get from your readership when they heard that you got the EUPL Prize?

I got a lot of feedback and invitations to schools and book clubs and participated in events and panels. It has been a great year overall.