Generations: A Greek Family Odyssey by Angela Couloumbis Dawson weaves together the immigrant story of a family in the early part of the 20th century. The semi-autobiographical, debut novel by Greek-American journalist Dawson was released on May 3. It follows the journey to America from Greece that so many embarked upon in search of a better life and the trials and tribulations that ensued for some. The details create a vivid portrait of life for the characters as they navigate the difficult path set out for them, working hard to make ends meet while their hope remains intact. In spite of setbacks along the way, the characters display the indomitable spirit of the immigrants and the Greek-American community.
Dawson told The National Herald, “I started Chapter Three as a creative writing assignment in the 1980s. I delved back into the story to expand it into a book approximately two years ago after my grandmother passed away at 97. Then I further expanded it to include my mother’s story and my own about a year and a half ago, with the bulk of the book coming together after my visit to Siatista, Greece in May 2017. That gave me a real ‘feel’ for the town where my grandmother was born and raised (even though it has all the modern conveniences today).”
As noted in the book’s description, “Sandra is a Greek immigrant whose arranged marriage brought her to America in 1935. Her daughter Krystal was abandoned by her husband to raise a two-year-old alone. Granddaughter Angela, the only Greek Orthodox student at a 120-year-old Catholic boarding school, encounters a mysterious spirit in a dormitory attic.”
“The cover was designed by my husband, James Dawson, from photos from my family album,” Dawson told TNH.
That many Greek women came to America as “picture brides” or as the result of arranged marriages should not surprise readers who are familiar with immigration history, but what happened to them after the wedding, or when things did not go according to plan, could be a book on its own. The American dream was more difficult to achieve for some than for others and the need to record the earlier generations’ voices to create an accurate account of the Greek-American experience is more important than ever. While the older generation is still with us, recording their memories, even if just for the family itself, should be a priority. The popularity of genealogical websites is a testament to the general public’s intense interest in searching for knowledge about their roots. A wealth of information is available, but can be overwhelming for most people who are not professional researchers. The courage and determination of those who came to the United States so long ago is inspiring and should be acknowledged and remembered.
Generations: A Greek Family Odyssey by Angela Couloumbis Dawson is available online at: Amazon.com.