"The Viper's Egg"
Patakis, 1990
Award: Commended by the Athens Academy
ISBN: 960-293-514-6

Eighteen-year-old Stephanos has many dreams for the future and is excited about life. No-one, however, has warned him about the pitfalls that he may tumble across, and no-one has told him that love, the most beautiful experience of youth, can be dangerous if you don't guard yourself from one of the great threats of our age - AIDS. So, without knowing any better, Stephanos will make one fatal mistake. Suddenly his life will be threatened. Just how much can his friend's Olga's support help him? Also, how much will everything that Stephanos narrates in this book ultimately help Argyris, his fourteen-year-old brother? Argyris must not make the same mistake as his brother when he grows up. Argyris must be saved from this he will know.

"...When I began reading, I was riveted: this is lyrical and sensitive prose, it is evocative of real life. It is a great poem in which the juxtaposition of death with life and youth is expressed by way of the existential questions that ultimately form responsible human behaviour. Its climax is a superb portray of human pain, of the dilemma that faces the carrier, and of the power of mutual love and trust which lead to the hope of survival.."
Nikos S. Matsaniotis
Professor and Pressident of the Athens Academy

"...Litsa Psarafti's novel tells of the solitary and exhausting journey of a contemporary youth, floundering in secret along the turbulent paths of ignorance and panic. Naturally this panic can stem from many things: illness, dependencies, insecurities, family problems, deprivation, failure to communicate, divorce and separation. There are many trials that can burden both young and old.

In the book, which is narrated in the form of a letter from Stephanos in London to his younger brother in Athens, we read very little about the menacing and terrible blight of our times, AIDS. Perhaps the author, despite dedicating her book 'to the children who want to know', deliberately bypassed it due to the great number of informational leaflets, articles and talk shows that are already available. What she may have wanted to convey (and this she has succeeded) are: the panic and terror of a young person dealing with such an event, his collapse in the face of calamity which comes without any warning, his complete estrangement from his family and, finally, his total isolation - an isolation in which children constantly find themselves plunged more and more, often when attempting to reject their parents' way of life.
In eighteen-year-old Stephanos' penetrating confession, there is repeated reference to a transformation of his nouveau-riche parents. The adolescent appears embittered when he speaks of his mother's greed and superficiality, his father's meanness, and his sister's coldness.

"The Viper's Egg" is a violent, raw, but honest exposure of a young boy's soul, and AIDS is the author's filter through which we read.

This masterful author provides us with valuable information regarding the loneliness of our homes and the loneliness of our adolescents - it is a bitter view of what remains generally hidden because of our pride."

Eleni Sarantiti
Eleftherotypia Newspaper, 5/9/1990

"She writes with an unaffected tone, primarily addressing high school children aged thirteen to eighteen. Without any traces of didacticism - the most important quality of her book - "The Viper's Egg" illustrates the fatal risks that all those who treat casual sex superficially face.

"The Viper's Egg" is a valuable contribution to children's literature for yet another reason: the reader feels the pleasing absence of "writing to order", that well-known blight of the commercially successful book."

Apoplus Magazine, Issue 2-3, 1990

"...[Psarafti] creates a hero who comes close to becoming a super-hero through his tragically lonely journey of the transgression of human strength.We could say that this specific work constitutes a life study of the limitless resources of a person who overcomes death through love and resonates with a newly discovered and previously untapped dynamism.
If we also consider that this is the first book written on the topic of AIDS, we can also interpret the conscious (or unconscious) attempt by the author to create a "brave" hero who, by finally overcoming the events - with the help of love (an element which in this case leads to both life and death) - will have avoided bringing the problem out into the open. So, essentially proudly repulsing all help, he will rise above the attrition and become a symbol of hope for survival. We could say that, in effect, this specific hero has satisfied society's expectations. The epic elements, however, which collective memory unconsciously extends to him, cannot be relevant here since he has confined the dialectic to his own individual problem."

Yannis Papadatos
"Heroic dimensions in literature for the young related to AIDS"
Educator's Society Magazine, March 1995

"...I have, in the past, stressed in similar critiques of the boldness of contemporary children's and youth literature in dealing with the burning problems of our times. Drugs, divorce, relationships between the sexes, violence - these have all been approached in books directed to young readers and often before adult literature has dared to tackle these issues itself.
Litsa Psarafti's latest novel, "The Viper's Egg" falls into this category of bold innovators. Its subject is AIDs.

Litsa Psarafti's decision to write a book on this subject is a bold one, however, she is one of the most dynamic figures in children's literature. Her work is characterised by a rich choice of subject matter: the environment, science fiction, historical events and contemporary political problems - Psarafti has found a way to weave all these issues into stories. Litsa Psarafti has paved the way and from now on I believe that we will see other stories that will "speak" clearly about the relations between the sexes.

I would thus like to draw attention to the force of the novel's narrative flow, its evocative description of everyday routines, of the tragedy which however much is smoothed away continues to remind us of its presence, and I would like to draw attention to its sensitivity and sensibility."

Manos Kontoleon
Avgi Newspaper, 16/9/1990


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