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Literature

In Case You Missed It: Summer Reading Recap

August 26, 2019

For many, the summer ends with the return from vacation, back to work and back to school, even if technically, summer ends when the autumnal equinox takes place, September 23 this year.
As everyone gets back to their routine for the fall, it is the perfect time to recap our summer reading, in case you missed it.

For fans of fiction, The Dangerous Art of Blending In by Angelo Surmelis is a solid debut effort in the young adult romance genre and features a young Greek-American, Evan Panos, who doesn’t know where he fits in.

God Is My Witness (Martys Mou O Theos) by Makis Tsitas is a powerful novel which won the European Union Prize for Literature in 2014, and is now available in English from Aiora Press. The translation by Joshua Barley offers English readers the opportunity to experience the world of its protagonist and antihero, the 50-year-old Chrysovalantis.

For those interested in nonfiction and biographies, Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff is a fascinating look at the life of one of the most well-known and perhaps least understood female historical figures. The complicated, to say the least, ruler of Egypt is probably best known through the many depictions in literature and in film, notably the massive production starring Elizabeth Taylor which is probably the first thing that comes to mind when we think of Cleopatra.

Though a massive amount has been written about Cleopatra through the ages, most of it was written years after her death. Documents from her lifetime are scarce and there may be only one with her actual handwriting from 33 BC, a single word, ginesthoi, Greek for “let it be done.” If you are wondering why a book about “that Egyptian woman” would be mentioned here in a Greek-American newspaper, it should be noted that Cleopatra belonged to the ruling family of Egypt, the Ptolemies, who were, of course, Greek.

Eva Palmer Sikelianos: A Life in Ruins by Artemis Leontis offers a well-researched and well-written look at the life of the woman who brought ancient Greek culture from an idea into practice in the modern era. The first biography to tell the fascinating story of the visionary American actor, director, composer, and weaver, best known for reviving the Delphic Festivals, the book reveals Palmer’s most spectacular performance – her daily revival of ancient Greek life.

For almost half a century, dressed in handmade Greek tunics and sandals, she sought to make modern life freer and more beautiful through a creative engagement with the ancients. Along the way, Palmer crossed paths with other seminal modern artists such as Natalie Clifford Barney, Renee Vivien, Isadora Duncan, Susan Glaspell, George Cram Cook, Richard Strauss, Dimitri Mitropoulos, Nikos Kazantzakis, George Seferis, Henry Miller, Paul Robeson, and Ted Shawn.

Prospero’s Cell: A Guide to the Landscape and Manners of the Island of Corfu by Lawrence Durrell offers a unique look at the island through the acclaimed writer’s perspective. Durrell was a critically hailed and beloved novelist, poet, humorist, and travel writer best known for the Alexandria Quartet of novels, which were ranked by the Modern Library as among the greatest works of English literature in the twentieth century.

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