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The Pencil Factory



Original Language: Greek | 424 pp. | 1999

2 Seas Represents: Dutch rights.

Rights sold: Germany (Zsolnay), Italy (Literatur), Catalan (Edicions de 1984), France (Alteredit), Israel, Turkey

Full German translation and English sample available

29th edition, over 110,000 copies sold


“A fascinating novel that few would dare to write.” –Lakis Fourouklas,

“In the most fascinating and accomplished of her novels, Soti Triantafillou converses with great figures of the past.” –Lily Eksarhopoulou, Diavazo Magazine

“The Pencil Factory resembles an intricate textile of countless designs, colours and threads…The writer is a great master.” –Yorgos H. Theocharis

One of the most important novels of post-war Greek literature and a vast panorama of European history from 1866 to 1940

The Pencil Factory is one of the most important novels of post-war Greek literature: a vast panorama of European history from 1866 to 1940 unique in its breadth, depth and scope. Published in 2000, the book has become a publishing phenomenon in Greece and is now in its 29th edition.

Charting the story of the Asimakis family, which begins in Cairo in 1866, The Pencil Factory takes us on a fascinating journey from Cairo, to Athens, to Zurich, to Djibuti, and from there, to Berlin to St. Petersburg to Brazzaville and back to Athens. Stefanos Asimakis –an engineer who has come to Cairo to work for the Suez Canal- believes in engineering and progress. All his dreams of progress, however, are squandered upon his return to conservative and politically backward Athens of 1882. It is a stifling environment, which his son Markos will escape by moving to Zurich to study engineering, thereby fulfilling his father’s wish.

A meeting with fellow student Nikos Vangalis will change Markos’ life forever. Vangalis is friends with Rosa Luxemburg, and a fervent believer in Vladimir Ulyanov’s vision of social revolution in Russia. It is through Vangalis’ travels and revolutionary adventures across Europe that we witness the birth of communism and the cataclysmic events that will change European history. And it is Vangalis’ increasing disappointment with the communist party’s inability to maintain the Bolshevik ideals of 1917 that will eventually bring him to Athens, where a chance meeting with Marko’s daughter, Louisa, will inspire them both to realise Markos’ life dream: the creation of a pencil factory.