September is a great month to replenish your reading list, especially if you spent the summer plowing through your to-be-read pile. Don’t fret, there are plenty of books to restock your supply ahead of the cooler months of the year. Whether novels set in Greece are at the top of your list or your interests run toward non-fiction and history, there is always plenty to inspire the imagination or expand our knowledge.
For those in search of compelling literary fiction, The Names by Don DeLillo is set in Greece and transports the reader to Athens and to an island in the Cyclades along with the characters in this highly acclaimed book. A thriller, a mystery, and a moving examination of family, loss, and the amorphous and magical potential of language itself, The Names, originally published in 1989, is a powerful novel. Among the cast of DeLillo's bizarre yet fully realized characters in The Names are Kathryn, the narrator's estranged wife; their son, the six-year-old novelist; Owen, the scientist; and the neurotic narrator obsessed with his own neuroses.
The book opens with an intriguing first sentence: “For a long time I stayed away from the Acropolis.” This glimpse into the narrator’s mind also vividly brings the city of Athens to life through dynamic descriptions in these opening pages of the novel. In a few simple phrases, DeLillo captures the essence of the city at this particular moment and among these characters in a car on the way back to Athens from a dinner in Piraeus. For those of us who have visited Athens several times, the author skillfully creates a world for his characters to inhabit that is recognizable and complicated.
DeLillo is the author of fifteen novels, including Zero K, Underworld, Falling Man, White Noise, and Libra. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the Jerusalem Prize for his complete body of work, and the William Dean Howells Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 2010, he was awarded the PEN/Saul Bellow Prize. The Angel Esmeralda was a finalist for the 2011 Story Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. In 2012, DeLillo received the Carl Sandburg Literary Award for his body of work.
OXI: The Battle Cry that Led the Greeks to Save the World by Nikitis Zoumberis. Photo: Amazon
For those interested in history and being prepared for the upcoming OXI Day celebration on October 28, OXI: The Battle Cry that Led the Greeks to Save the World by Nikitis Zoumberis offers a concise guide to the history surrounding that fateful day and the impressive role the Greeks played in turning the tide of the war. The book is marred by a few misspellings, but otherwise uses its compiled sources well to present an overview of the events and history. Zoumberis is a 71-year-old active attorney and resides in Warner Robins, GA where he is a member of the Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church and former county Democratic chairman. An avid reader, Zoumberis earned a degree in history at the age of 69 in order to learn how to write a book. Oxi is dedicated to his father, who was a Greek veteran and prisoner-of-war.
The books mentioned above are available online.