News  Authors  Illustrators  Books  Company profile  Services  Contact us  Links
Christos Boulotis ::
Manos Kondoleon ::
Loty Petrovits ::
Litsa Psarafti ::
Georges Sari ::
Kira Sinou ::
Evgenios Trivizas ::
Angheliki Varella ::
Alki Zei ::
Sofia Zarabouka ::
37, Rodou str.
GR-151 22 Maroussi Athens
tel/fax: + 30 210 6124405
mobile: +30 6945 872833
e-mail: info@bookboom.gr
 
     
   

Alki Zei is an outstanding figure in contemporary Greek literature. The greater part of her literary work is addressed to children and is a landmark in the field of children’s literature. Alki Zei has dealt with many forms of expression, such as short stories and plays, but mainly with novels.

Her work is characterised by realism, social concern for the contemporary problems of bourgeois society, respect for historical truth, discreet projection of ideological messages, as well as references to ever-lasting values. Despite the realism and seriousness of their subject matter, her books stand out for their optimistic outlook on life and their humour, without lacking the dexterity of storytelling, which is the charming playground of literature.

 

 

 

 

The basic axes of her prose are history and autobiography, which intermingle with the writer’s storytelling ability. The viewing of reality, historical and social, through the eyes, the speech, the spiritual and psychological maturity of children, makes her texts particularly attractive to the child reader.

Her novels, with the exception of The purple Umbrella and Constantina and her Spiders, could easily be classified as belonging to the contemporary historical novel, with particular reference to the shattering events of modern Greek history, i.e. the Dictatorship of Metaxas in 1936 (Wildcat under glass, partly and indirectly also The sound of the dragon's feet), the German Occupation – Liberation of Greece (Petros’ war) and the more recent dictatorship 1967-1974 and the Polytechnic students uprising in 1973, indirectly reflected in The sound of the dragon's feet, while in Uncle Plato there are sides of the life of the political refugees.

The novel The sound of the dragon's feet historically takes place in Russia before the revolution, but the reference to events of the Metaxas Dictatorship as well as to those of the Polytechnic uprising in 1973 in Greece is pretty obvious. In this novel the writer shows the universality of certain historical situations and ideas, such as those concerning freedom, democracy, resistance. She does this by abolishing the boundaries of time and place and by making the text accessible to any historic-cultural environment. The same applies to her other historical novels (Wildcat under glass, Petros' war). It is not accidental that all these three books have been awarded the Mildred Batchelder Prize (l970, l974, 1980), which is given by ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) in U.S.A. to the best foreign book in English translation. Pupils of French schools have also performed Wildcat under glass.

   

With her books, Alki Zei is the first writer to make reference to historical periods and political events from which the children’s reading public was excluded until then. The reference is conducted in an objective manner in what concerns debatable historical events. Frankly, without evasions or passing over some events in silence, Alki Zei proves that a book written for children can deal with all the subjects that create the historic-social and cultural background in which children partake in their own way.

In her two novels The purple Umbrella and Constantina and her spiders, Alki Zei deals absolutely successfully with subjects pertaining to cross-cultural problems and drugs. Children of a different cultural and historic-social background live together and relate to each other while they refuel their everyday life with elements of a culture different from their own; all this happens in a natural, unforced way in The purple Umbrella. Perhaps because the writer was forced to live for many years out of Greece (France, Russia) has something to do with the fact that she deals with all these multicultural events with such ease.

The cultural environment of Germany and Greece, the clash between various generations, not only from the point of view of age but also of ideology, as well as the difficult situations that a divorce creates, form the framework within which her latest novel around the subject of drugs moves; she handles it without preaching morality and good ethics but also without crudeness, in a climate of tenderness.

 

   

 

The main stylistic element of her texts is humour; it is a kind of humour that contains elements of criticism. The language used here is evocative, dense and varied in meaning, while befitting the reality of children’s language. The variety of the narrative ways, as well as the description, the dialogue, the retrospection or the foretelling element, together with some modern techniques such as the inner monologue, the “story within a story,” as well as the transtexts that are incorporated either unaltered or altered or even in the form of parody into her prose, make the books of Alki Zei superb examples of a literary style.

Generally speaking, Alki Zei's work – addressed to children but also read with great interest by grown-ups – is innovative and avant-garde. Her themes (recent history, social problems -- divorce, drugs -- contemporary problems of bourgeois society – consumerism, transcultural relations) occupy the mind and interest of the child of today. This fact is reaffirmed not only by the frequent republication of Alki Zei's books in Greece but also of her many publications, in translation, abroad. Alki Zei has definitely contributed to the renewal of children’s literature thanks to the aesthetic, social and educational value of her work.