Killing your best friend, in fiction

Amanda Michalopoulou’s latest novel «Why I Killed My Best Friend,» published this year by Kastaniotis, was already in its fifth printing by the time of the official launch this week. In a refreshing change from the standard book presentation, which can err on the dry side, actresses Alexandra Aidini and Nikolitsa Drizi performed excerpts from the novel at the 104 Discourse and Art Center in Exarchia on Monday. «Why I Killed My Best Friend» marks a new departure for the author, she told Kathimerini English Edition: «I feel the whole cycle of postmodernism had come to an end, at least in so far as how to write a book, because the three novels were all about how to write a novel. Each one approached it from a different angle. In ‘Wishbone,’ the heroes were innocent; they didn’t know they were going to write a novel. In ‘As Often as You Can Bear It’ they were self-destructive but they also wrote a novel; and in the third, I think it is a more balanced approach, the healthiest notion of how to write a novel, because you need equal parts of self-destruction and health, happiness and sadness, of everything there is in life.» The subject of her latest novel – which portrays an intense female friendship against the backdrop of recent Greek history – also led to a different approach, says Michalopoulou. «This book has a lot to do with my own experiences, my childhood.» The subject of friendship is crucial for her: «I believe friendship is a political system, in the end, with its totalitarianism and its democracy, like all regimes.» The next novel is still at the planning stage and Michalopoulou will probably start writing it in Berlin, where she is due to take up a prestigious scholarship previously held by Pulitzer Prize-winner Jeffrey Eugenides in 2004. So much of her writing has been done in various countries through similar arrangements, says the author, that «it’s become a vice. I’ll have to break the habit.» As a journalist, she found it a relief to be able to work in places where she was an unknown quantity among other unknown quantities. Does it help the actual writing process? «When you want to write something, you go toward your subject,» says Michalopoulou, «but I believe it also comes to you.» While she was writing the latest novel in Stuttgart she met an international group of designers and activists whose imaginative materials for political demonstrations found their way into her book. The author Amanda Michalopoulou was born in Athens, where she studied French, and later went to Paris to study journalism. She has been writing articles for Kathimerini since 1990. Michalopoulou won the magazine Revmata’s short-story prize in 1994 for her first book, «Life is Multicolored Out There,» a short-story collection, and Diavazo magazine’s fiction prize for her novel «Wishbone Memories» (1996). She has written two books for children and a volume of e-mail correspondence. Her work has been translated into several languages.