TIGHT BELTS AND OTHER SKIN (SHORT STORIES)
WINNER OF OURANIS AWARD OF THE GREEK ACADEMY OF LETTERS FOR 2012
“Now her body seems thoughtful, very serious. Tame, domesticated. A pet. Desires in the body are born of the senses, but in the mind, in the soul – how? Like the scent of rain on the watered soil. And evil, how is that born? By accident? By mistake? (…) Is evil born, or does it exist? It preexists. Like instincts. Like the thing we anticipate more than anything else. And it hasn’t come to pass yet. Will it be born? Does it exist?” (Female Nude)
“Bodies, in Penga’s stories, so tightly packed and yet so open, are revealed to us in various places, positions, relationships, times, clothed or naked, casually or anxiously, scattered outside of the plan, in a thoroughly lived and sometimes tortured sensuality, which is, however, rendered lightly, through small, indifferent gestures, almost naively. This naivety or, more accurately, naïve uncertainty, gives rise to fundamental and, for this reason, simple acute ontological observations. Her new book offers, once again, a scan of life, an exploration, for yet another first time, of human experience and thought within a sweet wasteland, a wilderness full of love, in voids full of the absence of utilitarian meanings and schemes, the creation of a pre-life, a life before it is shattered and put back together by the controlling, abusive mind.”
Vasilis Papageorgiou, author/translator
Elena Penga: Born in Thessaloniki. She studied theater and philosophy at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, U.S.A., and screen and theater writing at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She staged her first plays in cutting edge theaters in New York, and returned to Greece in the 90s. Her work includes Excitation Waltz (Amore, 1998), Käthe Kollwitz presents a short history of Modern Art (Fournos, 1999), 3-0-1 Transports (National Theatre of Greece, 2000), When Go-Go dancers dance (Booze, 2002), Nellys takes her dog out for a walk (Dimitria, 2003), New Friends (National Theatre of Northern Greece, 2006), Faidra or Alcestis – Love Stories (Delphi, 2007), The Emperor’s New Clothes (Plus Soda, 1999 & Roes, 2009), Gorky’s Wife (The Present Co., NYC 1999 & Kinitiras, Athens, 2011), Narcissus (Athens’ Festival, 2011). Her work has been translated into Dutch, Swedish, German, French, Italian and English, and performed in San Francisco, New York, Lisbon, the Netherlands, and the United Arab Emirates. She also wrote the screenplay for Lakis Papastathis’ award-winning film His only journey in his life. She teaches theater writing at the National Book Centre of Greece.
SIX OF THE SHORT STORIES PUBLISHED IN BROOKLYN RAIL, NY, IN MAY 2014, TRANSLATED BY KAREN VAN DYCK
FIVE OF THE SHORT STORIES HAVE BEEN PUBLISHED IN 2016 BY PENGUIN IN A COLLECTION OF CONTEMPORARY POETRY EDITED BY KAREN VAN DYCK TITLED: AUSTERITY MEASURES