Proust Questionnaire: 17 questions with Amanda Michalopoulou
By Clara Chow
Acclaimed Greek writer Amanda Michalopoulou came to national attention with her first novel, Wishbone (1996), which won the Diavazo Award. The bestselling novel, structured like a cookbook, comprises two competing narratives by siblings about their family. At times, the story is told from the ingredients' points of view.
Since then, she has published seven other novels, three short story collections, and a successful children's book series. Her latest title is Baroque (2018), a work of auto-fiction which tells a 50-year-old character's life story in reverse. An English translation of her 2014 novel, God's Wife, will be published by Dalkey Archive Press in December.
The American translation of her collection of short stories, I'd Like (2008), won the International Literature Prize from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was also nominated by the University of Rochester for an award for Best Translated Book. Her stories have appeared in the likes of Harvard Review, Guernica, Asymptote and The Guardian.
She has been widely translated, and is currently participating in the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. She holds a degree in French Literature from Athens University, and was a journalist for Greek newspapers.
1) What are you reading right now?
Also, Eros the Bittersweet by Anne Carson, and Neruda poems. I love to read poetry at night. It opens the mind for dreaming.
2) If you were a famous literary character in a novel, play or poem, what would you be and why?
In happier moments, I would be one of the two butterflies that rested on a beam, in the Emily Dickinson poem, 'Two butterflies went out at Noon .'
3) What is the greatest misconception about you?
4) Name one living writer and one dead writer you most identify with, and tell us why.
From the dead ones, I would choose Clarice Lispector, because this is how I am when I dream.
5) Do you believe in writer's block? If so, how do you overcome it?
6) What qualities do you most admire in a writer?
7) What is one trait you most deplore in writing or writers?
8) Can you recite your favourite line from a literary work or a piece of advice from a writer?
9) Complete this sentence: Few people know this, but I...
10) At the movies, if you have to pick a comedy, a tragedy, or an action thriller to watch, which will you go for, and why?
11) What is your favourite word, and what is your least favourite one?
Greek words: I hate "ladia" (stress on the last 'a'), which means that the sea is calm. I love "osmosis" and "diafano", which means transparent.
12) Write a short-short story in three sentences that include the following three items: funicular, omakase, speakeasy.
13) What object is indispensable to you when you write?
14) What is the best time of the day for writing?
15) If you have a last supper, which three literary figures, real or fictional, would you invite to the soiree, and why?
16) How do you negotiate creative fiction and journalism? What does truth mean to you?
17) What would you write on your own tombstone?