The readers’ beloved

The readers’ beloved

One could say that our outstanding author Alki Zei has raised with her books lots of children, apart from bringing up two of her own. Today’s children in Greece have moreover the chance to know her work in their textbooks where her novels have been anthologized.

Among the various national and international distinctions she has obtained for her work, the greatest recognition comes from the readers, who read passionately her books and place them in the top of the best seller lists.  But what makes Alki Zei’s work really significant is the impression it evokes out of Greece.  Her books have often been awarded abroad: Mildred Batchelder in the U.S.A. for Wildcat under glass, Petros’ war and The sound of the dragon’s feet, Acerbi Prize in Italy for Achilles’ fiancée, Bookworms prize in France for Tina’s web, European Student’s Prize in France for Granddad the liar.  Above all Wildcat under glass which has marked contemporary Greek juvenile literature since it was first published in 1963.  Through various trans-national republications, cataloguing for school study and frequent honours, it is considered to be one of the best books for children worldwide according to librarians, literary critics and teachers.

Alki Zei is therefore a precious asset for Greek contemporary literature.  She may mainly write for children but she equally addresses to adults.  Within the stories of her books she transforms her own experiences into novels, however always keeping enough distance from autobiography but allowing her heroes to view things through her own angle.  As she belongs to a generation of people who have sacrificed their ambitions and private lives for the sake of collective dreams and fight for peace, freedom and democracy, having herself actively participated in Greece’s bitter historical moments of Resistance, persecutions and overthrows during and after World War II, she considers it her duty to record those important historical events so that younger generations know.

But although her stories are set in really lived historical context, she is neither exhaustive in History account nor instructive towards readers.  Her intention is to ensure awareness and give a chance for further questioning on a multitude of universal moral and social issues.

Naturally, the greatest virtue of her books remains their exquisite literary value which derives from masterly expression, perfect plot and a subtle sense of humour, thus resulting to breathless reading.

Angelica Vouloumanou