Summer is a great time to catch up on your reading. Whether you’re at the beach or enjoying the air-conditioned comfort of home, here are three more books to add to your reading list.
For those fascinated by the Greek myths, House of Names by the acclaimed Irish author Colm Toibin is a remarkable retelling of Clytemnestra’s story. The book opens with the dramatic line, “I have been acquainted with the smell of death,” as the compelling, vengeful wife of Agamemnon begins her story. Those familiar with the Oresteia of Aeschylus know the tragic circumstances that led Clytemnestra to her inevitable fate. The bestselling, award-winning Toibin has created a powerful, modern re-telling of the familiar tragedy, giving the villain of Aeschylus’ trilogy an opportunity to speak for herself.
At an event in May at the New York Public Library, Toibin spoke about the book and noted how the ancient Greek myths were an inspiration to many Irish writers who studied ancient Greek and were looking to connect their work with the ancient Greek in order to separate from the English tradition during the Irish Literary Revival. He mentioned Lady Gregory in 1900 and W.B. Yeats, and Oscar Wilde’s De Profundis, noting it is full of Greek influence and that Wilde had traveled to Greece.
Toibin also noted that dealing with the issues of violence and revenge was something the mythology could allow in a unique way, especially for someone whose uncle had fought in the Irish Civil War and his grandfather in the Easter Rising. He observed how the killings in retaliation for killings during the Troubles had remained with him, especially the story of two survivors of a revenge shooting in Northern Ireland who had very different reactions when he tried to interview them at the time. There would be twenty more years of violence and retaliation, Toibin noted before the Good Friday Agreement was signed.
The dramatic events leading Clytemnestra down the path to revenge and her eventual murder are told in four parts in House of Names which includes the story of her children, Orestes and Electra, who are left to deal with the aftermath and are drawn into the cycle of violence and revenge. The book is available online and in bookstores now.
For thriller fans, Sunshine Noir edited by Annamaria Alfieri and Michael Stanley features eighteen short mysteries set in exotic locations including Greece. Jeffrey Siger, bestselling author of the Chief Inspector Andreas Kaldis series, is among those in the collection. His story Someone’s Moved the Sun is set in Mykonos where Siger lives.
History fans will enjoy ACS Athens 1945 – 2017: Serving Humanity, the latest publication of the American Community Schools of Athens, a commemorative History book that chronicles the evolution of the school and its impact on the community and society. Seven decades come to life through over 500 vivid images and narrative, evoking memories of Greece, and looking ahead to the future.
The book offers insight on how, in its over 70 years, ACS Athens has evolved into a leading international academic institution. The stories chronicle the milestones passed, while every image highlights the history and memory, all representing a piece of the mosaic which has ultimately formed the larger picture, year by year. The book was designed and illustrated by Leda Tsoukia and is available online at: www.acsathenseshop.gr.