Vasia Tzanakari


Vasia Tzanakari was born in Serres, Greece, in 1980. She studied English Language & Literature at the Aristotelian University of Thessaloniki and is finishing her MA in Translation & Translation Studies at the university of Athens. She’s had two books published by Metaichmio Publications. Her first book (2008), a collection of short stories called Eleven little murders: Stories inspired by Nick Cave songs won her a nomination for Best New Author in Diavazo literary magazine awards. Her second book, a novel called Johnny & Lulu came out in 2011. She’s also written various short stories for collective works (Greek Names, Kedros Publications), magazines and websites. She has worked as a journalist, she’s been editor-in-chief of Pop & Rock magazine and she is a translator, having translated works by Ian Rankin, Gillian Flynn, et al. Recently she earned a Scottish Universities’ International Summer School scholarship thanks to which she attended Text and Context programme: Scottish Literature 1900-present, in Edinburgh. She lives in Athens.

Featured Reading Group Title

Johnny and Lulu (Τζόνι και Λούλου)


Lulu is a photographer in her thirties. She and her husband, Johnny, live in Athens. The story begins when Lulu gets fired on May 1st. Johnny had only been working part-time and the couple is now faced with a new reality. Not only have they financial difficulties but also they are forced to put their future plans on hold. They keep looking for a job but they have no luck. While spending the summer in empty and devastated Athens they get a call from Johnny’s aunt, Lila, who tells them about a job for Lulu in Istanbul.

They set out on their trip in their old Skoda. The journey turns out to be a trip down childhood memories, hard family relationships and the beginning of their relationship. They are not all in this road-trip. They are accompanied by a couple of painters, a former sailor, a stiff big-shot lawyer, two sisters that grew up listening to Elvis, a professor who once used to be a record collector, a foul-mouthed female taxi driver, a man who turned into a dog, a cat who wanted to live free and the music that keeps them alive.

Johnny and Lulu go on a trip that seems to be their only hope to save their lives, to have the family they’ve always wanted, to find their lost innocence. It’s a trip that takes them to the unknown future, reconciling them with their past. Or is it?

Johnny & Lulu is a novel about unemployment, love, music, memory and the road which sometimes seems to be the only solution. It’s a book about a generation whose future has been stolen, a generation lost and sacrificed in the name of a crisis; a generation that never stops dreaming.

More Information

  • Johnny and Lulu is featured in our Greek Reading Group Autumn / Winter 2012-13.
  • Sample [download id=”63″] translated into English by the author Vasia Tzanakari (downloadable).
  • Twitter discussion of Johnny and Lulu on Thursday 8 November 2012, 6.30-7.30 pm GMT with the hashtag #readinggroup
  • Here is a review of Johnny and Lulu in the November 2012 issue of World Literature Today.


  1. I like, from the outset, the plainly descriptive picture of the city at this moment. I am not told how to interpret all this, as if the author respects my intelligence. Statements, particularly in the first half of the excerpt, are not over-elaborated on, but left for us to work with: ‘“No matter how many times you take a shower in the summer you’re always sweaty”, Lulu complained.’ No inane interruption to the flow of the story follows, nor comment from her companion, who wouldn’t comment because, of course, he knows her. This reads as a world I can believe in – which is essential if I’m to forget I’m reading a book. (The second half is a bit less consistent in this.)

    There is also some novelty brought to a familiar atmosphere in the reaction of the narrator, which keeps me awake and promises good things ahead. I like the moments of gritty language/comment/attitude presented.

    I’d happily read on.

  2. Stefan Tobler says:

    Like Jon, I’d very much like to read on.
    I enjoyed the twitter discussion organised by Georgia Panteli too.

    Here’s a page that captures what was said in that discussion:


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