Magazine article World Literature Today

Tzoni Kai Loulou

Magazine article World Literature Today

Tzoni Kai Loulou

Article excerpt

Vasia Tzanakari. Tzoni kai Loulou. Athens. Metaihmio. 2011. isbn 9789605014940

Vasia Tzanakari's first novel, Tzoni kai Loulou (Johnny and Loulou), is a love story set in contemporary Athens during a time of crisis, unemployment, and despair. It begins as an urban story depicting the dark reality of contemporary Athens and continues as a road novel, following the protagonists' long drive from Athens to Istanbul.

The author, born in 1980, belongs to the generation hit the hardest by the current economic crisis in Greece. When Tzanakari's protagonist, Loulou, is abruptly fired from her job as a photographer for a lifestyle magazine, the world around her collapses. Her husband, Johnny, an engineer by training, is chronically unemployed, occasionally playing the piano in a bar. After three months of looking for a job, Loulou realizes that they are both not just unemployed but unemployable, part of a growing tribe of ex-middle-class creative people in their thirties, now wandering in an empty city with their dreams suspended. Johnny's aunt proposes an escape out of scorching summer Athens: a friend of hers invites Loulou to photograph her new boutique hotel in Istanbul. So the journey begins in Johnny's ancient blue Skoda; a journey in space but also in time, as Johnny and Loulou revisit their past, their childhood summers, their loneliness, and the sorrows of growing up. …

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