Patricia Felisa Barbeito

Patricia Barbeito

Photo courtesy of Patricia Barbeito


Patricia Felisa Barbeito is professor of American literatures at the Rhode Island School of Design and a translator of modern Greek fiction and poetry. Her translations include Menis Koumandareas’ Their Smell Makes Me Want to Cry (co-translated with Vangelis Calotychos; Birmingham Modern Greek Translations, 2004); Elias Maglinis’ The Interrogation (Birmingham Modern Greek Translations, 2013), which was shortlisted for the 2014 Greek National Translation Award and granted the 2013 Modern Greek Studies Association’s Constantinides Memorial Translation Prize; Tatiana Averoff’s Averoff: Portrait of the Politician as a Young Man (Peter Lang, Byzantine and Neohellenic Studies, 2018); M. Karagatsis’ The Great Chimera (Aiora, 2019); and Amanda Michacholopoulou’s God’s Wife (2019), which was shortlisted for the 2020 National Translation Award. Her shorter translations have appeared in PEN/America, Asymptote Blog, Words Without Borders, Catapult, InTranslation, and Exchanges.

Project Description

To support the translation from the Greek of the novel Junkermann by acclaimed novelist M. Karagatsis, the pen name of Dimitris Rodopoulos (1908-60). Junkermann, a two-volume novel, is the third in a series called Acclimatization Under Apollo, which depicts foreigners who live and work in modern Greece.

When I first came across the work of M. Karagatsis some years ago, I was reminded afresh of why I began translating Greek fiction. Partly, it was frustration: here was one of the foremost novelists of the modernist movement in Greece, still virtually unknown and untranslated abroad. How could that be? Partly, it was the desire to recreate the process of falling in love with a work of fiction. The leap of faith and slow, intimate, and dialogic form of creation that is one of the great pleasures of translation. And there is plenty to fall in love with in Karagatsis, from the playful mix of literary traditions and registers of language in his novels to his bold and sensuous writing style. There is also the fact that his novels resist neat categorization, disturbing as they do entrenched notions of Greek uniqueness and exceptionalism on the one hand, and an exoticized otherness on the other. In his novels, Greece is not merely a setting but rather a heterotopia, a world within a world, both central and marginal, modern and ancient, that undergirds just as much as it unsettles some of the central discourses of European modernity. Today, in light of the contemporary crisis of Western identity, as well as the related re-evaluation of European modernisms, his work is particularly important. I am so grateful to the NEA for supporting the precarious labors of translation and thereby also expanding the diverse voices needed to cultivate truly global literary cultures. As Karagatsis writes in one of his novels: “The sailor wandering distant ports barters both goods and ideas, and on his homecoming brings a ship heavy with exotic merchandise and a mind teeming with visions of another world.”