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the Complete Review
the complete review - memoir

Another Life

Theodor Kallifatides

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To purchase Another Life

Title: Another Life
Author: Theodor Kallifatides
Genre: Autobiographical
Written: 2016 (Eng. 2018)
Length: 131 pages
Original in: Greek
Availability: Another Life - US
Another Life - UK
Another Life - Canada
Another Life - India
  • On Memory, Language, Love, and the Passage of Time
  • Originally written and published in Greek (2016), then in Swedish (2017)
  • Greek title: Μια ζωή ακόμα
  • Swedish title: Ännu ett liv
  • Translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy

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Our Assessment:

B+ : quite charming little book of living between two cultures and languages

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Aftonbladet . 11/3/2017 Claes Wahlin
Dagen . 21/4/2017 Rolf Knutsson
Göteborgs-Posten . 10/3/2017 M.Tunbäck-Hanson

  From the Reviews:
  • "Kallifatides har som den gode författaren lyssnat, iakttagit och reflekterat. Det är som om det nu i det sura Sverige inte finns tillräckligt med blommor att samla nektar från. Med grekiskan, upptäcker han, skriver han inte. Han talar." - Claes Wahlin, Aftonbladet

  • "Kallifatides bok är en pärla. Lätt att läsa och lätt att känna igen sig i även om man inte är författare. Och hur han hittar sitt språk trots att han är över 75 år får du som läsare själv veta, när du läser boken." - Rolf Knutsson, Dagen

  • "Kallifatides skriver om livet i förändring, om döden, om vänskap, om skrivande och språk, om litteratur och yttrandefrihet. Han för, så känns det, samtal med sin samtid och sitt förflutna. Kritiskt, reflekterande, ilsket och sorgset. Jag håller inte alltid med honom, men just så skall samtal som stimulerar föras." - Monika Tunbäck-Hanson, Göteborgs-Posten

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Theodor Kallifatides emigrated from Greece to Sweden when he was in his twenties, and fully embraced the Swedish language, becoming a popular writer who wrote in Swedish. In Another Life, the nearly eighty-year-old author finds that, after completing his most recent book, he's having difficulty starting anything new, and he wonders if he's done. Another Life is, essentially, about the writing of Another Life -- how he overcame this particular writer's block, and the path that led him to this particular reflective work.
       Kallifatides long had his routine, and a studio he traveled to daily to work in, but he found he simply couldn't keep anything new going:

I did everything the same as always: I arrived on time, made coffee, switched on the computer, but that was the end of it. I tried various ideas: translating the Iliad, penning an essay on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, writing a love story. They all died due to lack of oxygen.
       Beside this writer's block gnawing at him, Kallifatides is also disturbed by the changes he sees around him in his adopted homeland, a Sweden that is less welcoming and understanding of the foreign. And there's also his concern about the situation in his original homeland, economically battered Greece, as well as his frustration about the coverage of it in the European press, especially the inevitable lumping together of all Greeks as being responsible for that particular mess.
       In short chapters, Kallifatides describes his everyday experiences and encounters as he makes his way through his routines (and shakes some of them up), trying to find a starting point for a new writing-project, first in Sweden and then on a visit to Greece. Recollections are interwoven with observations of the present-day, with Kallifatides a cheerful guide, bothered by much of what he sees yet also always seeing the smaller and larger joys, and widespread resilience. Ready and eager to chat with anyone, he enjoys his encounters with diverse people and loves to hear their stories. There's a whiff of wistful nostalgia to all this, but Kallifatides is also always forward-looking -- and even when he's a bit unsure about the future (which his writing-difficulties are constantly a reminder of, not to mention his advanced age), his fundamental optimism seems always to shine through.
       As he struggles to write again he finds a surprising outlet: "I hadn't been very positively inclined toward these new fashions, so-called social media", but when he finds himself with a sentence "buzzing around in my head like a horsefly" and feels compelled to share it, he turns to ... Twitter:
I opened a Twitter account and let it fly out into space.
       It's not the way he's been publishing in his entire career, but he finds it a welcome outlet. It's a different kind of writing and sharing, but he takes to it:
It was an immediate form of communication, there was no need for an editor or publisher, there was no censorship apart from my own. I could say whatever I wanted, and it would reach an audience.
       The connection to Greece, and the Greek language, also remains an important one for Kallifatides. As he notes:
     Emigration is a kind of partial suicide. You don't die, but a great deal dies within you. Not least, the language. That's why I am more proud of not having forgotten my Greek than of having learned Swedish. The latter was a matter of necessity, the former an act of love, a victory over indifference and forgetfulness.
       It is in this return to his roots that he finds the inspiration he needs -- visiting the places from his past, but more importantly, engaging also with that essential part of it, the language. It's what does the trick: writing -- for the first time in half a century -- in Greek.
       So Another Life is also of particular interest as a book that is truly between languages -- the English translation also, interestingly, based on the Swedish version, rather than the Greek original. And, as Kallifatides notes:
Each language is unique. You can't write the same book in two different languages. You write a book that resembles the one you've already written.
       Kallifatides engages some with the issues raised by writing in different languages, but it's the one thing that feels a bit underdeveloped in Another Life: one suspects there's a lot more to say about this, and that the book's transformation into Swedish (and now into English) would have been a great opportunity to do so.
       Presenting all this in his bite-size chapters, Kallifatides covers a great deal and there is a great deal of variety to all of it; Another Life is a short but full book -- which, in Kallifatides' easy-going style never feels packed.
       An engaging and agreeable writer's mini-memoir.

- M.A.Orthofer, 11 September 2018

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Another Life: Reviews: Theodor Kallifatides: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Author Theodor Kallifatides (Θοδωρής Καλλιφατίδης) was born in 1938 and moved to Sweden in 1964.

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© 2018-2021 the complete review

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