Why I Killed My Best Friend
Original title: Γιατί σκότωσα την καλύτερή μου φίλη
- 2 Seas Represents: Dutch rights.
- Rights sold: USA (Open Letter), Slovenia (Modrijan Publishing), Albania (Offer received)
- On it’s 13th edition in Greece
- Full English translation and reader’s report available
WOMEN’S FICTION | NOVEL
“For a book that’s under 300 pages, Amanda Michalopoulou’s novel packs a whole lot of the joys, pitfalls, and politics of friendship, as well as Greece and all its problems, into one book.”—Flavorwire
“What typifies Michalopoulou’s novels is their artful structure, the stories within stories . . . an intense, introspective, sometimes obsessive, female protagonist . . . and an unreliable narrative that is constantly being undercut, reworked, tilted at a different angle.”—Vivienne Nilan
“Flawlessly translated, Amanda Michalopolou’s WIKMBF uses the backdrop of Greek politics, radical protests, and the art world to explore the dangers and joys that come with BFFs. Or, as the narrator puts it, ‘odiodsamato,’ which translates roughly as ‘frienemies.'”—Gary Shteyngart
Much like the exquisitely rendered friendship of Elena Ferrante’s trilogy… here is a portrait of what it means to use and be used by the people you love most, to see the best and worst of yourself in a face not your own. And it’s a sign of incredible maturity and wisdom for this fine, prolific, and audacious young writer to fearlessly embrace the challenge of brining that uncomfortable internal conflict to the page. – Jennifer Kurdyla, editor at Alfred A. Knopf, Music & Literature, 2014
Two girls, entranced with each other and hopelessly intertwined, grow up in the political chaos of Greece
In Amanda Michalopoulou’s Why I Killed My Best Friend, a young girl named Maria is lifted from her beloved Africa and relocated to her native Greece. She struggles with the transition, hating everything about Athens: the food, the air, the school, her classmates, the language. Just as she resigns herself to misery, Anna arrives. Though Anna’s refined, Parisian upbringing is the exact opposite of Maria’s, the two girls instantly bond over their common foreignness, becoming inseparable in their relationship as each other’s best friend, but also as each other’s fiercest competition—be it in relation to boys, talents, future aspirations, or political beliefs.
From Maria and Anna’s grade school days in ’70s, post-dictatorship Greece, to their adult lives in the present, Michalopoulou charts the ups, downs, and fallings-out of the powerful self-destructive bond only true best friends can have. Simply and beautifully written, Why I Killed My Best Friend is a novel that ultimately compares and explores friendship as a political system of totalitarianism and democracy.
The novel tracks their unpredictable relationship through their adolescence in the 1980s to one character’s untimely end (though it should be fairly obvious that the provocative title— Maria’s chosen title for the novel she imagines writing about Anna—is metaphorical rather than literal). It does take decades for Maria to see past Anna’s many betrayals, childish tests and impulsive leaps into their country’s radical politics and take her for what she really is. Here’s a notable moment in Maria’s blooming self-awareness: “I’m beginning to understand the mechanism behind her charm: she does something insane, something out of keeping with her beauty, her image, the way she dresses. Then she uses that conspicuous act like a blanket: she wraps herself up in it, becomes that act. In the eyes of others, Anna is an allegory for generosity, courage, resourcefulness. She does things that occur to other people only fleetingly, enacts scenarios from the realm of instinct. She charms, she torments, she curses, she kills.” A deft translation from the Greek by Emmerich helps Michalopoulou bring this emotional love-hate relationship to life.A spare but affecting novel about love and war during the restless decades. — Kirkus Reviews
Amanda Michalopoulou (born 1966, Athens) is one of Greece most highly acclaimed writers. She has published seven novels, three short story collections and a successful series of children’s books, all to great critical acclaim. She is the recipient of the country’s most prestigious literary awards, including the Revmata Prize, the Diavazo Award, and the Athens Academy Prize. Her work has been translated into many languages, including German and French. In the U.S., Michalopoulou’s I’d Like (Dalkey Archive, 2008; translated by Karen Emmerich) was awarded the NEA’s International Literature Prize and was on the 2009 Best Translated Books longlist. Her novel, Why I killed My Best Friend (Open Letter Books, 2014; translated by Karen Emmerich) was also longlisted for the 2014 Best Translated Books. Her story “Mesopotamia” was chosen for Best European Fiction 2018 (Dalkey Archive).