Karystiani, Ioanna 1952-

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Karystiani, Ioanna 1952-


Born 1952, in Chania, Crete, Greece; married Pantelis Voulgaris (a film director); children: two.


Home—Athens, Greece; Andros, Greece.


Writer. Has worked as a scriptwriter and cartoonist.


Greek state prize for literature and Athenian Academy prize, both for Mikra Anglia; Diavaso Literature Prize, for Koustoumi sto choma.


I kyria Kataki (stories; title means "Mrs. Kataki"), 1995.

Mikra Anglia (novel; title means "Little England"), 1997.

Koustoumi sto choma (novel; title means "Shade Wedding"), 2000.

Ho hagios tes monaxias (novel), 2003.

Nyphes (screenplay), produced as Brides, Cappa/DeFina Productions, 2004.

The Jasmine Isle (novel), translation by Michael Eleftheriou, Europa Editions (Rome, Italy), 2006.

Also author of the screenplay Estrella mi vida.


Ioanna Karystiani is a Greek writer whose first novels, written in Greek and translated into many languages with the exception of English, were widely praised. In Mikra Anglia she focuses on the individual lives of the sailors and fishermen on the Aegean island of Andros, and on their wives, who are continually faced with the loss of their men. The protagonist of Koustoumi sto choma is Kyriakos Roussias, an expatriate scientist who must deal with the facts surrounding the murder of his father.

Karystiani is married to film director Pantelis Vouglaris, who directed Karystiani's screenplay Brides. The movie, which had Martin Scorsese as executive producer, is in English with some Greek dialogue. It is the story of approximately seven hundred mail-order brides who crossed the Atlantic in 1922 to marry North American husbands. Among them is Niki Douka, who is on her way to Chicago to step in for her younger sister who cannot make the adjustment to the new land. Niki, a talented seamstress, sews for the first-class passengers at the urging of Norman Harris, an unsuccessful American war photographer who is returning to Detroit. Norman falls in love with the promised Niki, who attempts to dissuade him. Other characters include Haro, a beautiful young woman who is being forced to marry a baker in Canada, and villains, such as the lecherous matchmaker Karaboulat, a Russian who deceptively shows the young women the same photograph of a man he says is their intended. Dennis Harvey reviewed the film in Daily Variety, writing that it "is old-fashioned in both tone and virtues. Among the latter are a novelistic canvas, visual elegance, considerable charm, and romanticism that gains fervor via courtly restraint." In the Sydney Morning Herald online, Alex Murray described the movie as "sumptuous.… There's that feeling of old-world storytelling that is rich and beautiful, and tragic."

Karystiani's first novel to be translated into English is The Jasmine Isle, which is set in the first half of the twentieth century. It is a tale of two sisters who live on Andros with their controlling mother, Mina. Mosca, the younger sister, is jealous of the beautiful Orsa, who is their father's favorite. Mosca connives to destroy Orsa's romantic relationship out of spite, and Orsa ends up marrying the man her mother arranged for her, despite her love for someone else. Mina's domination of her daughters is fueled in part by the absence of her sea-captain husband. In MBR Bookwatch, Carol Volk recommended The Jasmine Isle for "its intricate and intimate telling of a deep tale." Library Journal contributor Leann Restaino appreciated the novel's "rich tone that is sure to entice readers."



MBR Bookwatch, April, 2006, Carol Volk, review of The Jasmine Isle.

Daily Variety, September 28, 2004, Dennis Harvey, review of Brides, p. 5.

Kirkus Reviews, March 15, 2006, review of The Jasmine Isle, p. 254.

Library Journal, May 15, 2006, Leann Restaino, review of The Jasmine Isle, p. 89.


Sydney Morning Herald Online,http://www.smh.com.au/ (October 4, 2005), Alex Murray, review of Brides. *