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Walking in the Light by Theodore Pitsios. (Photo: Amazon)
The American Dream and the immigrant experience in general have inspired countless novels over the centuries. There is a universal quality to the themes raised in many of these books, and the details of the experience of being an outsider, a stranger in a strange land, inspire authors to create stories that relate to almost anyone, regardless of their ethnic background.
Walking in the Light by Theodore Pitsios delves into the Greek-American experience, following Kostas, a headstrong Greek merchant seaman, who jumps ship in America in the 1960s, determined to achieve the American Dream in spite of the obstacles in his path.
The book transports the reader to the time period with vivid dialogue and description, drawing us into Kostas’ world so we feel the tension and urgency in the story from the very first pages. He shares so much of what all immigrants must undoubtedly feel to make this enormous leap into the unknown – confidence in their skills and abilities and the hope that with some luck on their side, if they work hard, they can make it.
Kostas begins to question, however, if it is possible to achieve the American Dream since it is not clear who he can actually trust. As an illegal immigrant, Kostas must beware of people taking advantage of his status.
We often hear about success stories like the ‘self-made man’, and the rags to riches theme is a powerful one that captures the imagination of many across the globe, driving them to seek their fortune in foreign lands far from home. This book follows the immigrant struggling to find his way, which is very likely a story many more immigrants share but never speak about. How many of us have relatives whose immigration story did not end like a Hollywood movie script or with a ‘happily ever after’? How many gave up on the American Dream when the struggle became too much for them to bear?
The character of Kostas begins to question if he can achieve his dream and the book offers unique insight into the immigrant experience through the eyes of this undocumented immigrant. The search for a better life is something all immigrants share and reading a novel like Pitsios’ Walking in the Light reminds us of the often untold stories of struggle that our ancestors tried to shield us from in the past but which in fact enrich our understanding of what it means to be the descendants of immigrants.
Born in Tsagarada, Greece, Pitsios graduated from the Maritime Academy and sailed as an engineer in the merchant marine. After some time in Nassau, Bahamas, he embarked on his own American Dream, beginning in West Palm Beach, Florida, and ultimately settling on the Gulf Coast.
He now splits his time between the United States and Greece. Pitsios is also the author of The Bellmaker’s House and Searching for Ithaka, both of which also highlight the Greek-American immigrant experience. More information about the author and his books is available online: https://www.theodorepitsios.com.
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