In a contemporary Greece battling economic distress and cultural upheaval, Julietta Harvey revisits the Gregoriou family -- created so vividly in her acclaimed first novel Familiar Wars -- as they strive to escape the wounds of the past and hold on to their place in the ever-changing landscape of modern Greece. When Eleni returns to Thessaloniki, after years, to attend her mother's funeral, she finds Greece an unfamiliar place. With echoes of the past and of her family's own struggle, new refugees stream across the borders from Albania, Bulgaria -- from Asia. At home, too, the geography of the family is breaking down, riven by the divisions that are rife across the country. Father and his three daughters manoeuvre in a war of exorbitant appetites -- over land, households, property. The daughters, reaching for the absent body of their mother, clutch for possessions left behind. The city itself, sinking under a mounting garbage strike, is thick with haggling, bureaucracy, eroticism: its air alive with passion, its talk high with certitudes of politics, history, patriotism. Thessaloniki is vividly present -- its population of diasporas; its hamams and christian catacombs; its waterfront haunted by the memory of invading armies and lovers' twilight meetings. The father, a refugee from older expulsions, continues his failing struggle to re-make his lost fortune. Caught in these redistributions, Eleni, seeking a refuge, lives through an interlude of love -- physical, illicit, healing -- with the lover of her first youth. Eleni, like her father, is a perennial refugee. Through the story of one family, Julietta Harvey sheds light on the malaise, and the vulnerabilities, of contemporary Greece -- seeking and sometimes finding sunlit moments of nostalgia, tangible family pleasures, small resurrections.
About the author:
Julietta Harvey was born and educated in Thessaloniki, Greece. She came to England on a British Council Scholarship and took her PhD at Cambridge, where she was elected to a Fellowship at Clare Hall. She has published on Seventeenth Century English literature and on Greek contemporary fiction. She is an Associate of Clare Hall, and is married to novelist and critic John Harvey. Her first novel, Familiar Wars, was shortlisted for the Whitbread First Novel Prize, the Angel Literary Award, and the PEN Macmillan Prize.
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