Theodor Kallifatides translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy

Another Life

On Memory, Language, Love, and the Passage of Time

Publication Date: Sep 25, 2018

304 pp


List Price US $13.99


List Price US $25.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25

An insightful, intimate essay on memory, language, love, and the passage of time, from a Greek immigrant who has become one of Sweden’s most highly respected writers.

“Nobody should write after the age of seventy-five,” a friend had said. At seventy-seven, struggling with the weight of writer’s block, Theodor Kallifatides makes the difficult decision to sell the Stockholm studio where he diligently worked for decades and retire. Unable to write, yet unable to not write, he travels to his native Greece in the hope of rediscovering his lost fluidity of language.

In this slim memoir, Kallifatides explores the interplay of meaningful living and meaningful work, and the old question of how to reconcile oneself to aging. But he also comments on worrying trends in contemporary Europe: religious intolerance and prejudice against immigrants, housing crises and gentrification, and the battered state of his beloved Greece.

Kallifatides offers an eloquent, thought-provoking meditation on the writing life, and an author’s place in a changing world.

Excerpt from Another Life

Very few people are fortunate enough to attract attention because they have stopped writing. I was under no illusions. But I was terrified of the emptiness that would take over my life. A series of days and nights as indistinguishable from one another as the long walkways in the apartment blocks built as part of the Million Program.

And yet I couldn’t write. Why? It wasn’t illness, it wasn’t personal problems or the social climate or anything else. The spring from which my writing came lay within me. If this spring dried up, there was something wrong with me. I couldn’t blame anything else, even if I wasn’t completely in tune with contemporary society. I could write an essay or a discussion book about that kind of thing, but I didn’t want to.

Sailors talk about a following wind. That’s what writing is like. You are carried along, the narrative chooses its own pathways, anything can happen from one sentence to the next.

I yearned for that feeling. It wouldn’t come.

Two months passed. I traveled to my studio every day. Once I got there I did nothing but listen to music and talk on the phone. Mostly I played chess with my computer, which I had named Karl Otto after the man who has been my publisher for more than forty years, my constant opponent. Occasionally I beat the computer and my happiness knew no bounds, at which point I would go and stand in front of the mirror to check if you could actually see that I was losing my mind.

“Kallifatides has written an unusual and refreshing memoir…A fascinating look into a prolific author’s mind, especially welcome since there have not been enough English translations of his books.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The work of Greek-born Swedish writer Theodor Kallifatides is not widely known in the United States. But based on the merits of his charming, late-life memoir…that shameful wrong needs to be righted. Slender in size, yet anything but slight in scope, this inviting meditation on age, writing and sense of place, beautifully translated into English by Marlaine Delargy, is witty, profound and thoroughly captivating…[an] exquisite book.” —BookPage

“[A] poetic and philosophical memoir…Traveling in his mind, Kallifatides produces a restless and thought-provoking read.” —World Literature Today

“In his elegiac, tender meditation on migrations, both geographic and psychic—from one country to another, from one language to another, from youth to old age, from the time of the present to memories of the past—Kallifatides offers his reader a personal politics of the human.” —Siri Hustvedt, author of The Blazing World

“Down to the smallest comma, it’s a pleasure to read Another Life.” —Svenska Dagbladet

“Wonderful…The strongest pages of Theodor Kallifatides’s writing—the delicate, finely philosophical—characterize his new work Another Life, a thin book with deep insights.” —Arbetarbladet

“Kallifatides’s relationship to the words and the story resembles a fifty-year love affair.” —Sveriges Radio