John Vasilakakos’ collection of short stories entitled In Chloe’s Secret Parts and Other Portents and Monsters was recently released by Papyrus Publishing. It is the English edition of Vasilakakos’ book published originally in Greek (as Στης Χλόης τα απόκρυφα και άλλα σημεία και τέρατα) by Logosofia Publishing (Athens 2007) and it was translated by distinguished English scholar, the late Philip Grundy OAM.
As the Australian publisher informs readers in the front blurb: “From the pen of an internationally applauded writer of the Greek aiaspora, Vasilakakos’s nineteen bold, nightmarish but spellbinding short story masterpieces test the deep waters of the world of Greeks in exile.”
In addition, Ann Williams remarks on the back cover: “… controversial, scandalous sometimes, in the main doing away with certain conventionalities and taboos, this collection of stories is guaranteed to initiate scores of readers to the mysteries of Life, Literature and Art. […] stories embodying the great themes of family, migration, homesickness, democracy, literature and art – absurd, macabre, sad, funny, enchanting.”
Poet Costas Plastiras notes: “The eye of the writer is not only descriptive but also critical. His language is contemporary, compact, at times even irreverent, but always vibrant and fascinating.”
The original Greek edition of this book was launched at the International Book Exhibition of Thessaloniki, under the auspices of the Greek National Book Centre and also in Athens in 2007. John Vasilakakos’ book received an unusual amount of publicity in the media and was highly acclaimed by numerous journals, critics and scholars in Greece for its originality and daring themes. An indicative sample of such reviews is the following:
Costas Lahas (writer, National Literary Award Winner): “Vasilakakos knows how to raise above a superficial obvious descriptiveness and escape into uncertain areas where the polymorphous efficacy of language is goaded on. […] Eventually, resorting ostensibly to ‘Chloe’s Secret Parts’, as far as her plastic art is concerned, Vasilakakos carries us away into a magic trip, in order to show us around the secret parts of his own green language, ‘as an odour of spiritual fragrance’…” (Public lecture, Thessaloniki, 18.5.2007).
Giorgos Aragis (critic), “Unceremonious language, discreet humour, nostalgia and love of the expatriate for his homeland […] Warm language. But also creative. I particularly liked the stories Secretly Dreaming a Magic Picture (the best, for my taste), The Black Holes and also Up in the Air, Summer Apprenticeship, Little Foreign Bird in a Foreign Land, etc.” (from letter to the author, 3.1.2007).
Vassilis Vassilikos (writer, television presenter of the Axion Esti book-show, ERT): “John Vasilakakos performs significant work in the Hellenism of the diaspora, of which he is an eminent personality. […] Read In Chloe’s Secret Parts… It will touch you, it will make you think, it will make you see the world you know from a different perspective.” (Public speech, Athens, 30.5.2007).
Costas Valetas (writer, director of the literary magazine Eolika Grammata):”John Vasilakakos’ personality reflects the grandeur of Hellenism abroad and his incalculable contribution to Modern Greek Literature. […] JV not only possesses the exceptionally difficult art of the short story, but also writes excellent Greek. […] his short stories combine a fascinating irony, among the imaginative and realistic elements with those of dream and magic, all of which create a beautiful mixture, a true work of art.” (Public lecture, Athens, 30.5.2007).
John Vasilakakos’ book In Chloe’s Secret Parts and Other Portents and Monsters is available from bookshops and also from Papyrus Publishing at www.papyrus.com.au