Census by Panos Ioannides. An old classic, re-invented!
Census is not a new book. It’s a year younger than I am, and I’ll be 43 year in a about 2.63e+15 nanoseconds.
Its first Greek edition saw the light of day in 1973, and received the National Prize for Literature for that year. It’s second release came a few years later, this time opting for fresh Athenian air. Our friends may remember Armida bringing out the third Greek edition of the book in 2014. In memory of our dear friend Mikis Phinikarides who passed away a few years ago, we kept his original 1973 cover concept. Of all our covers, this is the one I like the most. It’s elegant, dynamic, minimal, symbolic and visually appealing. It bears the mark of a great artist!
The story however, continues. The team sat down and figured that this book ought to be translated into English. Our good friend Despina Pirketti – a highly accomplished translator – stepped in, and about a year later, Census was reborn for the 4th time in its lifetime. This time targeting a far broader audience across the globe. As far as I know, Census, is the first and only of Panos Ioannides‘ novels that has been translated into English. His other novels are – or will soon be – available in German, Arabic, and Turkish and we’re now negotiating Dutch and Serbian. But for some reason, we never got round to finding a nice home for his work in English. After all, Armida specialises in bringing out intelligent literary fiction that has Cyprus and Greece at its core and Census fits the bill perfectly! Oh, and for people out there who actually know me -and you know who you are- and are now thinking: “How can Armida publish intelligent fiction with Haris in charge?” My response is -of course- simple: “Thank God I’m not the one writing these books!”
All those who have read the original Greek edition know that Census (Απογραφή) is a challenging book. In my opinion, as good an example of magical realism as many of the top sellers out there. The language isn’t always straight forward, and multi-layered symbolism abounds. From all of Panos’ books, I have to admit that this is probably my favorite. Perhaps because it’s the first one I read, or perhaps it’s because the story is both very familiar and yet out-worldly. But what do I know! I’m just a simpleton : )
So goes the behind-the-scenes story of a metaphysical thriller christened Census.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I have, and I really look forward to reading your comments on the book!