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Victimized by the recently installed managerial regime in a university in the North of England, Sam, a lecturer, is made redundant. He abandons everything in order to write a dystopian novel about the new order that so effortlessly disposed of him. Believing he has accepted a job as a school teacher abroad, his Greek wife Nefeli (the name means “cloud” in Greek) moves to a smaller house together with their ten-year-old son, a silent boy who appears not to challenge his parents' lie that their life will soon get back to what it used to be. While mother and child are slowly drifting apart, they encounter their new neighbour, an aged woman claiming to be a “cloud collector” capable of deciphering the “face of the sky”. This is how Nefeli comes across a manuscript left by the neighbour's late father: his memoirs from the surrender of Crete in spring 1941, when the evacuation of the British troops was halted and he, like thousands of others, was abandoned as a prisoner of war. How will this personal testimony get entangled with the dystopian novel that ultimately Sam brings to completion? What role will the couple's failing marriage and Nefeli's own involvement with crisis-ridden Greece play? In a palimpsest encompassing the family's story, the British soldier's story and the dystopian story written by Sam, we follow how each character's narrative is transformed when innocence and truth finally converge.
Born in 1968 in Athens, Dimitra Kolliakou is a graduate of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens and holds a Phd in linguistics from the University of Edinburgh. She taught linguistics at Newcastle University (1995-2010) and has since been teaching at the University of Paris Diderot (Paris VII). She has previously published two novels and a collection of concentric novellas and has been awarded the Jim Wilson Prize for first time author awarded by the National Book Centre of Greece (EKEBI), the Athens Prize for Literature and the Academy of Athens (Petros Charis Foundation) award.