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The Jasmine Isle Paperback – April 1, 2006

5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set on the Greek island of Andros during the first half of the 20th century, Karystiani's first novel to be translated into English centers on Orsa Saltaferou, a jovial teenager who falls in love with charming and sensual fisherman Spyros Maltambes. But when the time comes to settle down, her imperious mother, Mina, decides that Spyros is not the man for her daughter and arranges a marriage to the richer Nikos Vatokouzis, also a fisherman. Without a word of protest, Orsa resigns herself to her fate-until she returns from her honeymoon to find her younger sister, Mosca, married to Spyros. Further intensifying emotions, the sisters and their respective husbands must live with just a staircase between them. And because both men are sailors (as is the sisters' father), they often travel for long stretches and leave the sisters-along with Mina and many other women on the island-to look after the homes, raise their children and chat, trying to gather news about their husbands and, when it comes, the war. With a talent for crafting graceful narration and poignant dialogue, Karystiani presents a praiseworthy novel of a life caught between love and loss.
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Karystiani’s The Jasmine Isle changes the way all of us see modern Greece. -- Neue Zurcher Zeitung

She writes with a marvelous, original mixture of eroticism and poetry. -- La Monde (Paris)

Such joy that you want to sip it word by word or reread parts before you have even finished it. -- To Vima (Athens)

The beauty of the language, like the landscape itself, makes this novel an extraordinary reading pleasure. -- Die Wochenzeitung

The divine Ioanna Karystiana is the great hope for Greek fiction. -- The Guardian (London)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Europa Editions (April 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933372109
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933372105
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Eden on June 29, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I tried to read two of Karystiani's novels: The Jasmine Isle and Swell. In both cases, I was astounded by the terrible quality of the English translations. Karystiani is an accomplished novelist in Greece, but you would never know it reading the translated works. The narrative in both books is nearly incomprehensible. I found myself re-reading the same sentences and paragraphs multiple times trying to decipher their meaning. Eventually, I just gave up. It's such a disservice to the author. I wonder if she's even aware of the issue. I would give the book a 1-star rating, but that would be unfair to the author since the translation is out of her control. I'll let the text speak for itself. Here are excerpts from both novels:

The Jasmine Isle:

The Aden-Bombay it was back then, saltpeter, the Indian Ocean had whipped itself into a frenzy, standing the Theomitor on its end, four days and nights bartering with Charon, goners for sure, twenty-two men heading for the bottom, and God knows, with the fury spent and the steamer on an even keel again, the captain was out of his mind, desperate to get the secret off his chest. More than half the crew from back home, but Saltaferos kept his distance at sea for the sake of discipline. He couldn't find the way, the courage -- "go on, Christos, fry me up a couple of eggs sunny side up" -- to tell the cook, who had a similar story himself in Chile, dipping into the yolk to tell the tale, every gross detail, someone should know, to cover every eventuality, so why not Christos, a good man, not wanting to put himself out, the card, and softhearted to boot, mother and daughters, the Chilean women in Valparaiso, he called Frosso, Tassoula, Vengelio, just like the others back in the Aegean.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
Creatively authored by Ioanna Karystiani and expertly translated by Michael Eleftheriou, The Jasmine Isle is a conceptual and metaphorical tale of contemporary Greek literature. Mina Saltaferou forcibly weds her eldest daughter Orsa in spite of a love her daughter already feels for another. In a classic style and with a particularly vivid depiction of memorable characters, The Jasmine Isle narratively embodies the truths and barriers of women and men as set by society's predetermined constructs. Especially recommended as a work of exceptional talent, The Jasmine Isle is very highly recommended reading for its intricate and intimate telling of a deep tale, persistently focused on the unjust social constraints felt by so many.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Joanna Kkais on May 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
Well, having enjoyed Mikra Anglia in Greek when it came out several years ago, and having seen its forthcoming English translation advertised here on Amazon a couple of months ago, my interest was piqued: how would the translator approach what seemed a virtually untranslatable work? A work that rested on a distinct and distinctive use of the Greek language, of highly localized vocabulary, of an almost stream-of-consciousness style far from common in the annals of Greek literature?

Well, having read the book, I can say the translator did a jolly good job! The translation reads like an original, and succeeds in a flowing style of its own, especially in Part Three which, if you will excuse the hyperbole, reads a lot like the Greek work Dylan Thomas never quite got round to writing!

I heartily recommend this work to both those familiar with the original and with Karystiani's oeuvre, and to those who simply want to read an expertly-structured and written tragedy with a focus on the women the men of a seafaring isle left behind to fend for themsevles year in year out in the years between the two world wars. Of course, for those familiar with the charming island of Andros, as I am, this is a MUST.

Joanna Kkais,

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Can anyone tell me what MONOPATOSIA means. it's used throughout the book, and I couldn't even find a definiton or translation on Google.
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By George J. Fonti on June 27, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stilted writing. Gave up reading half way through
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