889: The Few Things I Know About Glafkos Thrassakis by Vassilis Vassilikos

by Gerard


Vassilikos, Vassilis. The Few Things I Know About Glafkos Thrassakis. New York: Seven Stories Press, 2004. Approx. 350 pp. ISBN 978-1-60980-212-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 800: Literature
  • 880: Literatures of Hellenic and Classical Greek languages
  • 889: Modern Greek literature
  • 889.3: Modern Greek fiction
  • 889.33: 1900 – 1999
  • 889.334: 1945 – 1999

Known for his landmark 1967 novel Z, Vassilis Vassilikos is one of Greece’s foremost literary talents. The Few Things I Know About Glafkos Thrassakis functions on many different levels. It is a meditation on the act of research and writing; it is an autobiography written about someone else; it creates a person out of the literary ether from someone who is real. Ostensibly, the book covers the travails of the narrator trying to find out the truth about the fictional writer Glafkos Thrassakis. Thrassakis is supposed to have been killed at the hands of New Guinea cannibals, but this story quickly falls apart. After discovering new manuscripts, he gains different picture of his elusive prey, but never fully captures him.

Thrassakis, we find out, is really a pseudonym for Lazarus Laziridis, a political dissident, and here’s where the dance between distance and intimacy start. Each layer is really just another façade for the author, but he keeps the reader caring about all three people. While the novel tends towards the Borgesian with its stories within stories, the feeling is delightfully European. There are times when Vassilikos becomes very cheeky and knows full well what he’s doing, and there are other times when his poetry cannot contain itself and creates remarkable passages, but overall, this book is both bewildering and satisfying.