Translation from Swedish by Neila García. Bombs fall on a Greek town during World War II, and a teacher takes her students to a cave for shelter. There he tells them about another war, the one recorded in The Iliad, when the Greeks besieged Troy. Day after day, he recounts how the Greeks suffer from thirst, heat and nostalgia, and how opponents face off: army against army, man against man. Helmets are cut off, heads fly, blood flows. Now others are invading Greece, the army of Nazi Germany. But the horrors are the same thousands of years later.
Theodor Kallifatides provides remarkable psychological insight in his modern version of The Iliad, downplaying the role of the gods and delving into the mindset of their mortal heroes. Homer’s epic comes to life with a renewed urgency that allows us to experience events as if they were first-hand, revealing timeless truths about the folly of war and what it means.
«I was fifteen years old and in love with my teacher. It was 1945, early April. My village had been occupied by the German army since 1941, like all of Greece. During those years the school did not work. The two teachers, one of whom was my father, had been fired by the Germans and no substitute came. We did not know if he lived or if he was already dead. Mom cried at night and took care of me and the house during the day. There were only two of us, it was Mom and me ».
If you want to read the first pages of the book, you can do it at this link.
Theodor Kallifatides has published more than forty books of fiction, essays and poetry translated into various languages. He was born in Greece in 1938 and immigrated to Sweden in 1964, where he began his literary career. He has translated great authors such as Ingmar Bergman and August Strindberg from Swedish into Greek, as well as Giannis Ritsos and Mikis Theodorakis from Greek into Swedish. He has received many awards for his work in both Greece and Sweden, where he currently resides. Galaxia Gutenberg published his work Another Life to Live in 2019, which has won the Cálamo Prize “Extraordinary 2019”.
At age seventy-seven, blocked as a writer, Theodor Kallifatides makes the difficult decision to sell the Stockholm studio, where he worked for decades, and retire. Unable to write, yet unable not to write, he travels to his native Greece in the hope of rediscovering the lost fluency of language.
In this beautiful text, Kallifatides explores the relationship between a meaningful life and meaningful work, and how to reconcile with aging. But he also addresses troubling trends in contemporary Europe, from religious intolerance and anti-immigrant prejudice to the housing crisis and his sadness over the battered state of his beloved Greece.
Kallifatides offers a deep, sensitive and engaging meditation on writing and the place of each of us in a changing world.
For this work he has received the Cálamo Prize «Extraordinary 2019», which will be collected next Friday 21 in Zaragoza.
“The book that Theodor Kallifatides wrote in Greek [.] Has deeply moved me. [.] It is a very beautiful book, that of a true spiritual death and resurrection, a miracle told with the calm naturalness with which a trivial and everyday event is described.
«A story injected by an emotional tempo that links poetic and political reflections or flashes of chronicle in which the sensuality of the flavors and the landscape emerges. The style of Kallifatides is an example of how the highest aspiration of those who write with the intention of transcending lies in their desire to endure as the seed of a stimulus that, once in the hands of uncontrollable readers, grows and forks to infinity
«It is true this time: whoever touches this book touches a man. Pure fiber. The writer is speechless, the keyboard is mute. He is Greek from the diaspora, since 1964 he lives in Sweden and in the Swedish language. And suddenly silence falls on Theodor Kallifatides, 81 years old. In his native land humiliation and poverty resonate dry.
Juan Cruz, The Country.
«It will be the return to Greece, the troubled, cultured and ruined native country, which reactivates the writer and helps him to see clearly that he does continue to have themes [.]. Like Picasso’s biographer, Kallifatides has found, having reached a more than respectable age, that he still has “another life to live”. And he transmits it to us.
Sergio Vila-Sanjuán. The Vanguard Cultures
«Two invitations open and close a prodigious, sensitive, sincere book, written between the folds of time. The first invitation is very typical of the world of the writer: a colloquium. The second, the tribute that the teachers of the Institute of Secondary Education and the students dedicate to him in his hometown. Between the two, a profound confession, told in 133 pages: Another life to live by Theodor Kallifatides »
who reflects on what the family is and how it determines us in all aspects of life in a beautiful exercise of self-knowledge in which he reconstructs the personality, life and death of his father.
“An excellent novel […] full of honesty and courage, a novel in which the search for a missing father moves us, shakes us and makes us fall in love”, Manuel Vilas.
«He is for me the past that I did not have and I for him am the future that was denied him. He thought of me for a day. The last day of his life. I have always had his shadow in mind », Galder Reguera.
On New Year’s Eve 1974, Galder Reguera’s mother learned that she was pregnant with him. That same day, his father died in a car accident. These pages combine an exciting family tale full of unexpected twists and a chronicle of an investigation.
We all know that collecting an inheritance is not an easy process: parents and children fighting, brothers fighting to the death, nephews denouncing the family for a handful of euros. But it happens if it is a family, apparently how united, the one that is going to inherit an apartment in one of the best areas of Barcelona from an old woman they do not know. Well, that is what Lluis Llort tells us brilliantly in Collateral inheritances.
We all know that collecting an inheritance is not an easy process: parents and children fighting, brothers fighting to the death, nephews denouncing the family for a handful of euros. But what if it is a seemingly united family that is going to inherit a flat in one of the best areas of Barcelona from an old woman they don’t know. Well, that is what Lluis Llort tells us brilliantly in Collateral inheritances.
Ernest Claramunt, a famous lawyer, closes a brilliant business with the elderly Francesca Puigmajor. He will pay her a monthly pension until her death and, when she dies, her apartment will be owned by the Claramunt family. It seems to be a good business, but things rarely happen our way.
With time jumps typical of a tightrope walker, Lluis LLort tells us, always in the present, as if it were difficult to reach the future, the life of the Claramunt family and the life of Francesca Puigmajor.
Collateral inheritances is a choral novel, it is difficult to find a unique protagonist in any member of these two families. The Claramunt family is made up of Ernest, a successful lawyer married to Vicky, heir to a high-born but low-budget family. Gisele, his daughter, has inherited the drive from her father and has managed to survive with some dignity the decadence that hangs over her family. Artur is the character who develops the worst of each family branch. He handles himself like a giddy millionaire who subsidizes his friends’ revelries and who suddenly finds himself face to face with a much more prosaic reality.
On the other hand, we are going to learn about Francesca’s past and present. In this case the relationship with her daughter is not easy either. Francesca can only see in her the reflection of her failed marriage and Violeta can only see in her mother a stranger who causes her nightmares. The family relationships described in Collateral inheritances, despite being written with a dark black humor, describe the constant losses, misgivings and lies that almost all of us live in our homes although we almost never know.
Money is another topic covered in Collateral inheritances. In the case of the characters in this novel, money is used for different things. For the Casademunt family it is a means of continuing to keep up appearances. Both Vicky and Artur are unable to accept their situation and each time they take a step out of it they sink lower. Money is simply the vehicle to show a luxurious situation for the gallery. In Francesca’s case, it is the way to buy freedom, a freedom that will leave people dead on the way but that will achieve the happiness that the men in her life have denied her.
Collateral inheritances is a novel of intrigue, a novel full of acid humor, a critique of extreme capitalism. It is, in short, a highly recommended novel.