Our Offices & Partners Abroad

12 Swiss Books – 2015

All The Stories I Know

all the stories i know
alle geschichten, die ich kenne



“Rarely have we read such tight, funny
dialogue, which makes any question about sense or nonsense superfluous.”




Portrait_GioulamiDAGNY GIOULAMI was born in 1970 in Bern, and now lives
in Zürich. She studied at the Zürich University of the Arts, and then worked as an actor at, amongst others,
the Städtische Bühnen Münster, the Theater Basel and the Schauspielhaus Zürich. Since 1998, Dagny Gioulami has been a writer of song lyrics, librettos and plays. Alle Geschichten, die ich kenne is her first novel. PHOTO © Shirana Shahbazi

The young woman, who recently took over the dry-cleaners shop across the street, is soon to get married – and in Constantinople. The beautiful green taffeta dress, which she will wear for the occasion, is in a poor state. The narrator gets hold of some green taffeta and happens to know just who can make a copy of the wedding dress for her: her Aunt Irini, who lives in Greece.So she sets off for Greece, accompanied by a “tattooed policeman”, who is a “colleague”. The two of them travel to meet the storyteller’s relatives, aunts and uncles, and get involved in countless minor but often rather shady incidents.
All the Stories I Know revolves around a wonderful expedition into the undergrowth of family history. When the two travellers eventually arrive at Aunt Irini’s, she wants nothing to do with making the dress. She’s too old, her husband is ill, and in any case they’re none of them young any more, these aunts and uncles. At the same time, they’re full of absurd stories, and are forever coming up with new ones.
Dagny Gioulami is a great storyteller, with a keen eye for an anecdote, who at just the right moment eschews an obvious punch line, never shines a bright light but prefers a gentle glow: quiet slapstick with verbal wit. Above all, she has a practised ear for droll dialogue. Of course, the narrator has to sew the dress herself. And when she goes to deliver it – with the tattooed policeman – everything turns out to be quite different.

TITLE Alle Geschichten, die ich kenne
PUBLISHER weissbooks, Frankfurt am Main
ISBN 978-3-86337-073-2
TRANSLATION RIGHTS Rainer Weiss, weiss@weissbooks.com


German original (p. 58-60)

Die Tankstelle der unabhängigen Petrole am Zubringer zur Umfahrungsautobahn. Der tätowierte Polizist gibt dem Mann an der Tankstelle seinen Autoschlüssel. Innere und äußere Reinigung zehn Euro.
Wir sitzen auf Barhockern an einer Werkbank zwischen Tankstellenshop und Waschanlage und trinken Sprite.
Ich halte das Paket mit dem grünen Taft auf den Knien.
Der tätowierte Polizist sagt: »Überall gibt es Schneiderinnen, die das Kleid nachnähen könnten.«
»Tante Irini konnte die Kleider auf die Körper der Frauen nähen. Sie hat meiner Tante Marianthi einen Tailleur genäht, der seine Form behielt bis zu dem Tag, als Tante Marianthi ihn wegwarf.«
»Irini ist fast neunzig.«
»Sie ist eine Meisterin.«
An einem Tisch in unserer Nähe sitzen Angestellte und Kunden der Tankstelle und trinken Café frappé.
»Worüber reden die Leute?«, fragt der tätowierte Polizist.
»Über die Krise und warum es so heiß ist.«
»Die Menschen sind klug, sie werden sich zu helfen wissen.«

Wir fahren im frisch gewaschenen Auto zum Sommerhaus meiner Tante, das in einer Kolonie von Sommerhäusern in der Art russischer Datschen liegt.
Ich bringe meiner Tante Medikamente mit, die meine Mutter in der Schweiz für sie gekauft hat. Der tätowierte Polizist wartet im Wagen. Mittagszeit. Meine Tante tritt in Unterhosen und Hemd aus dem gekühlten Wohnzimmer auf die Veranda.
»Wen hast du dabei?«, fragt sie und versucht, ins Innere des Autos zu sehen.
»Einen Arbeitskollegen.«
»Warum kommt er nicht herauf?«
»Er muss arbeiten.«
»Was arbeitet er im Auto?«
»Er hat einen Computer.«
»Deine Mutter hat gesagt, ich muss die Medikamente nehmen, sie waren teuer. Was soll ich euch kochen?«
»Nichts, Tante, es ist zu heiß zum Essen.«
Onkel Chrysostomos, der Mann meiner Tante, ist dazugetreten und sagt: »Ich schneide Früchte auf. Ich mache euch zwei Teller.«
Im Fernsehen läuft Gewichtheben. »Könnte dein Arbeitskollege das?«, fragt meine Tante und deutet auf den Bildschirm. »Könnte er das heben?«
»Deine Tante läuft in Unterhosen herum«, sagt mein Onkel. »Kein Wunder, dass dein Arbeitskollege nicht raufkommen will.«


Excerpt translated by Damion Searls

The independent oil company petrol station on the approach road to the bypass. The tattooed policeman gives his car key to the attendant. Interior and exterior cleaning, ten euros.
We sit on bar stools at a work bench between the con-venience store and the car wash, drinking Sprite.
I’m holding the box of green taffeta on my knees.
The tattooed policeman says: “There are seamstresses all over who can copy a dress.”
“Aunt Irini could sew dresses on a woman’s body. She sewed my Aunt Marianthi a suit that kept its shape until the day Aunt Marianthi threw it out.”
“Irini is almost ninety.”
“She’s a master.”
At a table nearby, petrol station attendants and their customers are sitting and drinking frappés.
“What are the people talking about?” the tattooed policeman asks.
“About the crisis, and why it’s so hot.”
“People are clever, they’ll figure out what to do.”

We drive in our newly washed car to my aunt’s summer-house, in a community of Russian dacha-style summer-houses.
I am bringing my aunt medicines that my mother has bought for her in Switzerland. The tattooed policeman waits in the car. Noon. My aunt steps out of the airconditioned living room onto the porch in knickers and a shirt.
“Who’s that with you?” she asks, trying to see inside the car.
“A colleague.”
“Why isn’t he getting out?”
“He has to work.”
“In the car?”
“He has a computer.”
“Your mother said I had to take the medicines, they were expensive. What should I make you?”
“Nothing, Auntie, it’s too hot to eat.”
Uncle Chrysostomos, my aunt’s husband, has come in, and he says: “I’m slicing fruit. I’ll make you two plates.”
There’s weightlifting on the television. “Could your workmate in the car do that?” my aunt asks, pointing to the screen. “Could he lift that?”
“Your aunt is running around in her underwear,” my uncle says. “No wonder your workmate doesn’t want to get out of the car.”

“Dagny Gioulami’s tale of a journey across northern Greece is on the
one hand magical; on the other it resembles Beckettian absurdity.”

Upcoming maintenance work

The application portal myprohelvetia will be updated from 1.1.-7.1.2024. Due to these changes, open applications must be finalized and submitted via the current online portal (myprohelvetia.ch) by the latest 23:59 on 31 December 2023. Until this date, the deadlines and criteria outlined in the current guidelines and calls for applications apply. New applications can be created and submitted in the application portal as of 8 January 2024.