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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction



Menis Koumandareas

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To purchase Koula

Title: Koula
Author: Menis Koumandareas
Genre: Novel
Written: 1978 (Eng. 1991)
Length: 88 pages
Original in: Greek
Availability: Koula - US
Koula - UK
Koula - Canada
La femme du métro - France
  • Greek title: Η κυρία Κούλα
  • Translated by Kay Cicellis

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Our Assessment:

B : small story, quite nicely done

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The LA Times . 14/12/2005 David L. Ulin

  From the Reviews:
  • "Koula is a novel, then, that unfolds almost entirely in the interstices between "expectation and remembrance, the future and the past." What gives the book its resonance is an almost painful sense of serendipity, of how events, once set in motion, take us where we don't expect to go." - David L. Ulin, The Los Angeles Times

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Koula is the story of a brief affair between a twenty-one year old man, Dimitri, and Koula, who is married and whose own children are already ten and thirteen.
       Dimitri and Koula encounter one another almost daily on the train ride home, where they almost invariably finds themselves sitting in the same car, though they get on and off at different stations. They are aware of one another, and a few chance occurrences lead them together. There's a mutual attraction, as Dimitri generally prefers older women while Koula is somewhat frustrated at home. She's not quite sure of what she's doing, but lets herself get pulled into the affair; more decisively, she eventually also brings it to an end.
       It's a very short novel, centred on Koula, for whom this is slightly more than just the adventure it seems to be for the somewhat immature Dimitri. The focus is also entirely on them -- their encounters, their relationship. Koula's husband and daughters remain almost completely unseen and unknown; one of the few frustrating aspects of the novel is that how Koula's domestic life is affected (the consequences of her staying out, if nothing else) is not addressed at all.
       Dimitri and Koula remain passing strangers: there's no future in this. And yet it is a sort of marvelous adventure, a few moments out of the ordinary for Koula, a necessary side-step.
       Koumandareas presents and tells the story well, though this in-between length leaves it feeling slightly under-developed. It's a small tale, but for that quite well done.

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Koula: Reviews: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Greek author and translator Menis Koumandareas (Μένης Κουμανταρέας) was born in 1931 and died in 2014. He has won the Greek National Book Award three times.

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