Nicos Panayotopoulos

Nicos Panayotopoulos

Nicos Panayotopoulos was born in Athens in 1963. He studied engineering, but at the same time took drama courses at the Hellenic-American Union. Initially, he worked as an arts journalist for newspapers, magazines and television. Since 1992 he makes a living as a novelist and screenwriter. He has been teaching screenwriting in several Film Schools, seminars and workshops, and, lately, at the Film Department of the School of Fine Arts at AUTH. Since 2007 he is a senior trainer at the MFI script2film workshops. He has written screenplays for short films, TV series and feature films. In 1996 he won the best screenplay award forTruants (dir. by N. Grammatikos), at the Thessaloniki Film Festival. In 2000 he won the first prize in a screenwriting competition with his screenplay False Alarm, which was produced in 2006 (dir. by K. Evangelakou). He co-wrote The King and The Wake (2002, 2005, dir. by N. Grammatikos), My brother and I, (1998, dir. by A Kokkinos), and Totally Married (2003, dir. by D. Indares) among others.

He has written a collection of short stories, “The Guilt of Materials” (Polis ed. 1997), for which he was awarded the Maria Ralli Award for first appearing writers, and four novels: “Ziggy from Marfan – The Diary of an Alien” (Polis ed. 1998), “The Gene of doubt” (Polis ed. 1999),“Icon” (Polis ed. 2003) -the later was shortlisted for the National Novel Award-, and “The children of Cain” (Metaixmio publ. 2011). Ziggy is translated in Italian (Polvere di stelle, Crocetti ed.), Icon is translated in French (Saint-Homme, ed. Gallimard) and German (Heiligmacher, Reclam Verlag), and the Gene is translated in French (Le Gene du doute, ed. Gallimard), German (Die Erfindung des Zweifels, Reclam Verlag), Italian (Il gene del dubbio, Ponte Alle Grazie ed.), Slovenian, Serbian and Chinese and is currently being translated in Portuguese. He has translated into Greek Andrew Crumey’s “Mr. Mee”, Philip Roth’s “The professor of desire”, and Jean Echenoz’s “Jérôme Lindon”.


Featured Reading Group Title

The Gene of Doubt (Το γονίδιο της αμφιβολίας)


In the early 21st century Albert Zimmermann, an American biologist, discovers the gene of the artist. He introduces a simple test, which can easily prove if one is born a creator or not. A promising writer, fearing a possible rejection, decides to live with doubt. He refuses to undergo the test, which has brought the world of Arts (and not only) upside down, without realising that with this attitude he condemns himself to silence. He will suffer the painful consequences of his decision bravely and he will not regret it but only for a moment, just before his death… And then he will start writing again, to write the praise of doubt, without imagining that this confession will lead to a new reversal, perhaps even more resonant than that caused by the infamous test.

“This work is one of the most inventive works of speculative fiction during the last years internationally. If it was ever to be translated into English, then it might become a universal best seller”. Dimosthenis Kourtovik, Greek writer and literary critic

“Using science fiction or, better, the occasion provided by science fiction, Panayotopoulos talks about contemporary and current issues. The Gene of Doubt is a novel about the anxiety of the artist, his relationship with publishers and critics, and his desire to prove his work recognized.” Filippos Filippou, Greek writer and journalist

More Information

  • The Gene of Doubt is featured in our Greek Reading Group Autumn / Winter 2012-13.
  • Sample [download id=”65″] translated into English by David Connolly (downloadable).
  • Twitter discussion of The Gene of Doubt on Tuesday 11 December 2012, 6.30-7.30 pm GMT with the hashtag #readinggroup


  1. abinop says:

    In my opinion it is by far the best book of the 4 mentioned!

    • Georgia says:

      Hello and thank you for your comment. Could you tell us a bit more about why you liked this book more than the others?

      • abinop says:

        I consider that the main idea of the book itself has a very unique concept. How may writers have not asked themselves if there is an absolute measure of creativity? The book describes a futuristic “ethical” dilemma that in the far future -hope not – might come true and in the same time portraits the lengths a writer goes to to publish his work. I think this is a case of a book that should be published in English in the first place as it addresses a universal audience.

  2. Eleni Kalogeropoulou says:

    Delightful sense of humor. Extremely well-written. It poses a question-mark in both art and life, and at the same time it undermines it. Both the prologue and the “epilogue” are moving towards this direction providing the reader with multiple narrators, creating a post-modern framework through which the work is to be perceived. It plays with the stereotypes of the “artist”, the “critic”, the “work of art”, engaging in the long and significant conversation that has to do with the source of creativity, its necessity or even the use of it in an ever-increasing self-centered world. And still, it never ceases to be funny or well-intended towards human nature.
    Highly recommended.

  3. Christina Dokou says:

    I believe Nicos Panayotopoulos is one of the most gifted writers of his group, that’s why I recommended his book for this list. His _Icon_ is as good a read, as capable of eliciting enjoyment out of the bitterest satire and touching on universal philosophical themes and raw issues of scientific ethics without a whiff of preaching. Reading _The Gene_ ‘s incredibly realistic science fiction could get many literati in the academic-publishing world squirming in their seats with flashes of self-recognition.

  4. It’s hard to believe the narrator would enter a room for the first time in these circumstances and be so attentive to various objects, many difficult to interpret in such detail without looking closely, and before he’d look at and notice the unexpected attire of the person who was the cause of his unexpected and urgent visit.

    The easily obtained fantasy-sex is credible to me only if the scene is in fact a fantasy/daydream, but this excerpt makes no suggestion of this.

    There is no unusual perspective or awareness narrated in this excerpt to awaken my reading interest; the suggestion is of a predictable read.

    Sorry to be so negative, but others – happily – read it differently.

    • Georgia says:

      Thank you for your comment, Jon. To answer your question, the sex scene is not a fantasy/daydream, it comes as a result of the narrator’s relationship with Patti, which is one of deep trust and affection. This is a turning point in the novel, as Patti will be his muse and inspire him to write again. Writing is an essential theme of the novel, as you will see from the synopsis above. Without revealing too much, I can only say that it is not necessarily a good thing that the narrator starts writing again.

      • Thanks for the note, Georgia; I appreciate it.

        Clearly context is half the story, but – particularly if I’m reading the opening to a story (which may not be the case here, of course) – I anticipate a clear idea of what’s to come.

        I have to say I don’t read synopses, generally, and particularly if I’m considering my own response to a text. A resistance to being told how to read I suppose. (My madness.)


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