Michel Fais

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Michel Fais
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Born (1957-04-01) April 1, 1957 (age 66)
Komotini, Greece
  • Novelist
  • Short story writer
  • Playwright
  • Screenwriter
  • Literary critic
LanguageModern Greek
GenreLiterary fiction


Michel Fais (born April 1, 1957) is a Greek novelist, short story writer, playwright, screenwriter, and literary critic.[1] He was born in Komotini (Thrace) and is of Jewish descent. He works as editor of the books section for the Greek newspaper Efimerida ton Syntakton[2] and teaches creative writing in the program organized by Patakis Publishers, at the University of Western Macedonia (in Florina) and at the Open University of Greece.[3]

Fais' original literary work is comprised mainly of novels, short stories and theatre plays. In his first novel Autobiography of a Book (Αυτοβιογραφία ενός βιβλίου, 1994) Fais renders a fragmented account of Komotini that not only presents the difficulties of (re)constructing the complex history of a town and its people with strong Muslim, Christian, Asia Minor refugee and Jewish presences,[4] but also adopts an ironic attitude towards the obsession with auto-fiction and towards novel writing itself, as the novel's title suggests.[5] The book received substantial critical attention[6] and has been translated into French (1996)[7] and Romanian (2007)[8].

For the collection From the Same Glass and Other Stories (Απ' το ίδιο ποτήρι και άλλες ιστορίες, 1999) Fais was awarded the Greek State Literature Prize for the Short Story (2000).[9] Fais makes use of varying language registers and writing styles ranging from telegraphic accounts, heart-rending monologues, a one-act play script, intimate notes, to a series of apparently journalistic observations. Through a range of methods, his work discloses the mechanisms of loss, mourning, and rememberance which one may find at the core of the dysfunctional relationships and the patterns of obstructed life in these stories.[10] This critically acclaimed collection of short stories[11] has been translated into French (2003)[12], Spanish (2005)[13], and English (2007)[14]. Several of these stories were included in anthologies (e.g. Angelic & Black: Contemporary Greek Short Stories, 2006)[15] or published in (literary) magazines all over the world, including China, Czech Republic, Germany, and the U.S.A.[16]

Fais's first novella, Aegypius monachus (2001), marks the author's further progress in the realm of self-examination[17] and shares common literary ground with the letters and diaries of Franz Kafka. The centrifugal forces of compulsive (self-)observation resonate with the frequencies of disruption and distress in the latter's writings.[18] The novels God’s Honey and Ashes (Το μέλι και η στάχτη του Θεού, 2002)[19] and Greek Insomnia (Ελληνική αϋπνία, 2004) elaborate the writer's hybrid identity (as Greek-Jewish) through the respective fictional biographies of a Greek (Romaniote Jew) painter, essayist and researcher of Greek shadow puppetry (Giulio Caïmi) and a well-known writer from his region of birth Thrace (Giorgios Vizyenos). Fais' later prose works, Purple Laughter (Πορφυρά γέλια, 2010), Grave Offerings (Κτερίσματα, 2012),[20] Out of Nowhere (Από το πουθενά, 2015), Lady Cortisol (2016), and As Never (Όπως ποτέ, 2019), take up and deepen many of the themes and techniques from his previous works and demonstrate his remarkable literary sensitivity to troubled inner realities which escape logical explanation.[21]

While several of his books have been adapted for the theatre,[22] most notably Greek Insomnia (Ελληνική αϋπνία, 2006, directed by Roula Pateraki),[23] Danubian Trout (Πέστροφα Δουνάβεως, 2010, based on Aegypius Monachus and directed by Lilly Melemé)[24] and La Petite Mort (2014, based on the novel Grave Offerings and directed by Lilly Melemé),[25] Fais also wrote two theatrical works (Yellow Dog / Το κίτρινο σκυλί, 2009[26] and Nobody’s Bench / Το παγκάκι του κανένα, 2014[27]) which were staged several times in Greece. He co-wrote screenplays with film director Nikos Panagiotopoulos for Delivery (2004), Athens-Constantinople (2008) and Rembrandt's Daughter (2015).[28]

Selections of Fais' photographic work, which is closely related to the main characters and the general atmosphere of disruption and distress in his prose work, were presented in Athens, Thessaloniki and Vienna.[29] His two most important solo exhibitions were curated by the Art Space 24 in Athens (Last Look / Ύστερο βλέμμα, 1996 and City on its Knees / Η πόλη στα γόνατα, 2002).[30] In 2016 a photo retrospective exhibition (1996-2016) titled Broken Look (Σπασμένο βλέμμα) was held in the Pleiades Bookstore in Athens.[31]

Apart from his literary and photographic work, Fais has been a contributing literary critic to several literary magazines (e.g. Anti, Diavazo, Enteuktirio) and newspapers (Kathimerini, Eleftheros Typos, Eleutherotypia, Efimerida ton Syntakton) and edited literary series for a number of Greek publishers, most prominently for Patakis Publishers.[32] From 1994 to 1997 his research and editing work on the folklorist, aesthete and painter Giulio Caïmi contributed significantly to the reassessment of his artistic and theoretical production.[33]


  1. "Μισέλ Φάις - Βιογραφικό σημείωμα" (PDF). Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  2. "Εφημερίδα των Συντακτών: Μισέλ Φάις". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  3. "Translating Literature into Art, via Fais (Art Scene Athens, December 7, 2017)". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  4. "BiblioNet: Michel Fais - Autobiography of a Book". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  5. "Michel Fais: Autobiography of a Book (Patakis Publishers Rights List Adult Fiction, London 2011)". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  6. "BiblioNet: Μισέλ Φάις - Αυτοβιογραφία ενός βιβλίου". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  7. "WorldCat.org: Michel Fais - Autobiographie d'un livre". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  8. "Ithaca Online: Michel Fais". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  9. "Μισέλ Φάις - Απ' το ίδιο ποτήρι και άλλες ιστορίες". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  10. "Sarah Ekdawi: Michel Faїs, From the Same Glass and Other Stories. Translated by Jane Nisselson Assimakopoulos, with an Introduction by Stavros Deligiorgis. Birmingham: Centre for Byzantine, Ottoman and Modern Greek Studies, 2007. Pp. 179. (Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 32.1 (2008), 126–27)". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  11. "BiblioNet: Μισέλ Φάις - Απ' το ίδιο ποτήρι και άλλες ιστορίες". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  12. "Michel Faïs: Histoires enterrées (vives): nouvelles". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  13. "Michel Fais: Historias enterradas (vivas) - Premio Nacional Griego de Relato". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  14. "Birmingham Modern Greek Translations". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  15. "Laura McDowell: 'Angelic & Black' modern tales (Kathimerini English Edition, September 14, 2006)". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  16. "e.g. Michel Fais, "Bzzz, Bzzz, Bzzz" in Harvard Review 18 (2000)". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  17. "BiblioNet: Μισέλ Φάις - Aegypius monachus". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  18. "Bart Soethaert: Παραβατικά παιχνίδια μπροστά στο Νόμο (Books' Journal 38, December 2013)". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  19. "Michel Fais: The Honey and the Ashes of God". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  20. "Michel Fais: Offerings". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  21. "Αριστοτέλης Σαΐνης: Από την Αυτοβιογραφία ενός βιβλίου (1994) στο Παγκάκι του Κανένα (2014). Μια αναδρομή στο πεζογραφικό έργο του Μισέλ Φάις (Books' Journal 44, June 2014)". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  22. "The Greek Play Project: Michel Fais' Theatre. The Stage Adventure of a Gaze". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  23. "The Greek Play Project: Greek Insomnia, 2006, Michel Fais". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  24. "The Greek Play Project: Danube's Trout, 2010, Michel Fais". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  25. "The Greek Play Project: La Petite Mort, 2014, Michel Fais". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  26. "Georgia Gotsi: Beyond "Home Identity" Immigrant Voices in Contemporary Greek Fiction (Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Volume 30, Number 2, October 2012)". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  27. "BiblioNet: Μισέλ Φάις, Το παγκάκι του κανένα. Παραμιλητό της Αθήνας". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  28. "IMDb: Michel Fais". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  29. "Fotoausstellung Athens Shots" (PDF). Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  30. "Michel Fais in the Sotiris Felios Collection". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  31. "Δήμητρα Γκρους, Το «σπασμένο βλέμμα» του Μισέλ Φάις. Αναδρομική έκθεση φωτογραφίας, 1996-2016 (Athens Voice, January 28, 2016)". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  32. "BiblioNet: Michel Fais". Retrieved July 24, 2020.
  33. "Encyclopedia Judaica: Modern Greek Literature". Retrieved July 24, 2020.

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