NOVEL, 262 pages
ISBN: 978-960-04-3650-1
Kedros 2007

IBBY Award, 2008

What Alex fights for is his right to be himself. But this is not an easy battle to win when being himself means becoming a professional comics artist. Unwilling to submit to the future his narrow minded, condescending and austere father has mapped out for him,- read economics at the London School of Economics and then return to Athens to work for the family business, a factory that manufactures screws-, abandoned by his loving mother who works for an NGO in Mozambique and last but not least, painfully missing his great love Isabella who left to study abroad, Alex finds emotional support and artistic guidance in his encouraging new mentor, Erikos, a brilliant thirty year old comics artist and owner of a small Athenian comics bookstore at Exarchia.

When Erikos, who constantly praises Alex’s talent, talks him into preparing a portofolio of his work to present to the famous American agent who will be giving a talk at the upcoming comics art show in Athens, Alex feels that a real opportunity has finally risen, that his dream of one day becoming an established artist in the tradition of Joe Sacco, Art Spiegelman, Marjarine Satrapi might not be merely utopic. But things take an unexpected turn when late one night, while hanging out in a half lit artsy haunt, packed with people, Alex sketches the face of a man sitting at the corner table.

The man is only a stranger, just another face in the crowd. There is nothing special about him, not at first. Alex sketches him out of habit. He always sketches the people around him, trying to capture grimaces and expressions and attitudes and even feelings, working relentlessly for his portofolio. But then, when two thugs walk in the café and approach the stranger and drag him out, Alex thinks he sees the outline of a gun sticking out of one of the two thugs belt. Or could he be wrong? The stranger tosses something under the table towards him, his gaze locks with Alex’s. Is he trying to tell him something? Is he being kidnapped, right there, in front of everyone, yet no one is noticing? Or is it just Alex’s wild imagination?

Very soon, Alex will realize that in that dark, underground hole, Kylix’s Café, he had unintentionally drawn the first panel of a story that could at any moment break out from the safe haven of his sketchpad and spill out into the real world – his real world – turning it upside down.

Praise for Gutter in the Greek press

“Papaliou masterly interweaves the most widely different threads… starting out with the traditional mystery story, where the detective is called upon to fit together the scattered pieces of an initially incomprehensible puzzle, she enters the world of comic superheroes and of graphic novel…while it touches upon teenage literature, featuring complicated and often traumatic family relationships….Beyond its literary intelligence, however, Papaliou’s book stands out for its vivid anthropology: its heroes are compact with integrated personalities, filled with the contrasts, contradictions and conflict befitting their age, gender and social class.” V.Hatzivasileiou, Eleftherotypia

“The portrayal of characters and the unfolding of the plot reveal a masterly hand…multiply stimulating. It features the latest thematic trends (the central character is a young comic artist), impeccable execution (the plot merges seamlessly with the young-adult literature and crime novel genre), ultra-heightened suspense (it holds your interest completely to the last page).” 
E. Kotzia, Kathimerini

“…when I held the book in my hands and started to read it, I had this feeling, from the very first moment, that here is a story that has riveted my attention. I had the irresistible urge to go on and on.” 
P. Markaris, Athens Voice

“Papaliou masterly interweaves the parallel, mutually-crossing narrative “steps” of comics-writing with novel-writing, which, to my mind, is what makes her novel so interesting…. Undoubtedly, an exceptionally remarkable and original debut novel.” 
E. Houzouri, Vivliothiki, Elftherotypia

“Gutter merges crime literature with comics in a genuinely innovative manner…Whether you are a comics fan or not, Dorina Papaliou’s Gutter is a fascinating, remarkably well-structured crime novel, which bridges the gap between the two art forms and serves as an imaginative introduction to comics.” 
Culture/O Kosmos tou Ependyti, Myrto Tselenti