photo: © Penelope Masouri 2009
«Raptopoulos’s gift as an author is evidenced in the words he doesn’t need to use». «Harvard Review»
Vangelis Raptopoulos was born in Athens in 1959, where he studied education and journalism. From 1980 to 1981 he lived in Sweden, and in 1984 spent a half-year in the United States on an International Writing Program scholarship.
His first work, published at age 20, In Pieces (1979) [Read the short story with the same title], was enthusiastically received; excerpts were translated into English, French, German and Swedish. His next two novels, Toll Gates (1982) and The Cicadas (1985) ― with which he completes a trilogy-team portrait of his generation, during its adolescence ―, established him as one of Greece’s most promising young authors. (The trilogy was published in one volume, under the general title: My Generation in 2003.)
In 1992, he published The Imperial Memory of Blood, in 1993 The Bachelor and in 1995 Obsessions. His seventh book, a novel entitled Loula (1997) [Read an excerpt], is his most popular for the moment and triggered a scandal because of its provoking theme: Demon of Lust. This was followed by two more books, The Game (1998), Sad and Deep as You (1999), including stories of sex and death placed at a fictitious village called Limni Ahaias. In 2000 he published The Incredible Story of Pope Joan, a medieval novel centered in the life of the only woman in History to become a Pope ― inspired by the classic «Pope Joan» written by Emmanuel Rhoides in 1866 (and translated into English by Lawrence Durrell).
During 2001 he presents two pieces of work: a novel called Black Wedding [Read an excerpt] and Does Simitis Listen to Mitropanos?. The last one is a political book about Greece of today, journalistic and at the same time very personal; and its heroes are real persons, such as those mentioned in its title (like the European-friendly Greek prime minister Simitis, or his somehow oprosite, one of the most representative Greek folk singers, with the roots of his music deeply in the East, Mitropanos).
His thirteenth book, My Own America (2002), is a journey to contemporary, american, mass literature, but even to serious literature of our days, aiming at the discovery of a new continent, where a synthesis between these two literary genres takes place. In 2003, he published The Invention of Reality, a novel 700 pages long, his longest for the moment, concerning present day Greece, in all its glory and in all its decadence.
During 2005, two more books followed: a novel called We Lost Dad, which indirectly refers to Dad’s, the male model’s, absence in the modern world, and a collection of interviews and essays about modern greek poets and prosewriters, entitled A Bit of History of Modern Greek Literature. In 2006, he published Friends, a short novel that covers the last fifty years through an almost ideal friendship, and Ancient Recipe: Herodotus, Heraclitus, Lucian, an attempt to create a contemporary novel based on ancient ingredients.
In 2007, he published The Great Sand, a novel about the Greece that disappears and changes; that it has already changed; or maybe, deep down, it remains the same? This was followed by Endlessly Empty House (2009), a collection of seven stories bound into a chain of black comedy that explores the «endlessly empty house» of individualism. In 2011, he published Tales of Limni: The Game, Sad and Deep As You, Endlessly Empty House, fifteen interconnected stories or a novel variation on the unbridled individualism, which, in the era of globalization, infects like a virus the apotheosis of community life: a modern Greek village.
The High Art of Failure (2012), is something between a diary and a documentary, an autobiography and a chronicle, a confessional essay and a travelogue of the first decade of the new millennium. In other words, this book outlines a decade that began as the very definition of success: Greece’s participation in the European Monetary Union in 2001 and the 2004 Athens Olympics confirmed beyond any doubt that Greece was finally a part of Europe. Since 2010, however, the collapse of the nouveau-riche illusionary façade and our sinking in a severe economic crisis, has required that we discover the high art of failure…
The Most Secret Wound (2012), a novel. A contemporary love story with the events of December ’44 at its background. A lifelong love in the times of instant loves and the nightmare of civil war in the years of the crisis.
Vangelis Raptopoulos’ first two books have been adapted for the television [Watch the TV mini-series based on Toll Gates, here: I, II, III, IV | and here: I, II], while The Bachelor was brought to the screen (a major box-office hit; more than 150.000 viewers [Watch the movie here]). The Cicadas came out in English and The Incredible Story of Pope Joan in Italian. Occasionally he has worked as a consultant in publishing houses, a scenario consultant on various television channels, a newspaper columnist, a producer and speaker on radio programs. His personal archive has been donated to the Gennadius Library.