Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

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Translated by Marilyn Calmann

A progressive parliamentary deputy is scheduled to appear at a political rally. Meanwhile, local political bosses plot his assassination. Thugs are recruited to disrupt the rally. Rumors begin to spread. But the forces already set in motion are irresistible. Z is the story of a crime, a time, a place, and people transformed by events.


Z was published in Greece in 1966, and banned there one year later. It is based on an actual political assassination in 1963 in Salonika. The victim was Gregory Lambrakis, a socialist legislator and outspoken critic of the government. But Lambrakis's killers could not have anticipated the public response. His funeral became a political event; by the time the cortege reached Athens, 400,000 people were following the coffin in silence. In the nation's capital, the letter Z suddenly appeared on walls, sidewalks, posters—everywhere. Z stands for the Greek verb zei, "he lives."

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“Shattering validity, exciting reading . . . Vassilikos's gifts are dazzling.”

“An admirable book and a rich one that achieves its aim: to throw light on a historical moment of great significance.”

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Born in Thasos, Greece, in 1933, Vassilis Vassilikos is one of Greece’s most acclaimed novelists, having published more than ninety books, including novels, short stories, essays, poetry, and plays. His novel Z was first published in Paris in 1967, was adapted for film by Costa-Gavras, and has been translated into thirty-two languages. Among them, The Few Things I Know About Glafkos Thrassakis is taught throughout universities in Greece as a contemporary classic. Vassilikos lives in Paris and Athens.