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My Greek Books—October 2021 Reads

by Maria A. Karamitsos   ·  3 years ago   ·  

It’s time for My Greek Books-October edition! So many books, so little time! Click through to find out what I’ve been reading.

My Greek Books

Welcome back to My Greek Books! Over the last few weeks, we’ve settled into our new school and activity routine, which has allowed me more time for one of my favorite activities—reading!

Recently, I published my interview with Greek-American Author Amalia Gouvitsas Balch and review of her powerful new memoir, Lost Child of Greece: One Orphan’s Incredibly Journey Home. Check it out here.

Maria A. Karamitsos supports independent booksellers through Bookshop supports indies in two ways: 10% of regular sales on are added to an earnings pool that is evenly divided and distributed to independent bookstores every 6 months. As a affiliate, she’ll earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Check out My Greek Books for October 2021!

Keep reading for this month’s picks.

The Unwanted Dead: The Shocking End of Zorba’s Heretical Author by Yorgos Pratanos

Black Rose Writing (August 19, 2021)

This My Greek Books pick is by Author and Journalist Yorgos Pratanos. Born in Thessaloniki, he now lives in Athens. Over the years, he’s collaborated with The Vice (Greek edition), served as managing editor for the Greek edition of People Magazine, and worked for Alter Channel. The Unwanted Dead is his first novel. Published in Greek in 2018, the book has been translated Niki Stavrou and Nicole Brison Chraniotis. Incidentally, Stavrou is is the step granddaughter and Godchild of the great author’s widow, Eleni Kazantzakis. She’s been responsible for the Kazantzakis estate since the death of her father, Patroklos, Mrs. Kazantzakis’ stepson.

Pratanos has stated that the book is 80% factual. He told Melbourne-based Neos Kosmos, ”To be more precise, the dialogues in ‘real time’ are fictional, in addition to the dialogues of the ‘past’”.

My Greek Books Oct 2021_The Unwanted Dead by Yorgos Pratanos
The debut novel from Greek Journalist Yorgos Pratanos

About The Unwanted Dead

The brilliant Cretan Author Nikos Kazantzakis, as we all know, was revered throughout the world, but reviled in his home country. Powerful people plotted against him, even worked to thwart the award of a Novel Prize, for which he was nominated nine times. In 1957, he lost the coveted prize to Albert Camus—by one vote. They even tried to have him excommunicated from the Orthodox Church. In late October 1957, Kazantzakis passed away in Freiburg, Germany.

The story chronicles the 10 days following Nikos Kazantzakis’ death and follows his wife Eleni as she battles for a proper burial for her husband. From his passing in the hospital, to they’re arrival in Greece, and finally to Heraklion, where even dead, the powers that be would not stop. To try to get through, the widow clings to her memories and her beloved husband’s words of wisdom. Yet, she’s still astonished by the lengths his detractors will go to disrespect him, even in death.

As a huge fan of Kazantzakis, I couldn’t wait to read it. The Unwanted Dead rattled me, saddened me, tore my heart out. How could anyone treat another human being that way, and continue to do so after their passing? Kazantzakis deserved far better. Yorgos Pratanos’ debut skillfully reveals the hypocrisy of the time. He’s a promising new literary voice. I look forward to his next work.

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A Detour in My Life: A Cretan Memoir by Michael G. Vlamis

KDP/Self-published (April 17, 2020)

This My Greek Books pick is by Michael G. Vlamis. Prompted by the harrowing experiences of living through WWII in Greece, then the Civil War, he left his birthplace in Kalyves, Crete, to forge a new life. He lived in Pittsburgh before going to Chicago. Following his marriage and the birth of his children, he moved to Kansas for ten years before returning to Chicago. Kalyves remained an important part of his life, and he shared his homeland with his children, visiting as often as possible.

Vlamis didn’t set out to publish a memoir to share with the world. The book began simply as a project to compile his life story and experiences growing up during this historic time in Greece to share with this grandchildren and subsequent generations. Once complete, his son urged him to publish it. Shortly thereafter, the Pritzker Military Museum became aware of the tome, and interviewed him for several hours. Vlamis’ oral history and the book have now become part of the museum.

Michael G. Vlamis shares his story growing up in Greece during WWII.

About A Detour in My Life

English isn’t the author’s first language and it’s evident, but don’t let that stop you. He shares his first-person account of history. Through that unique perspective, filtered only by the lens of time, Michael G. Vlamis tells of an idyllic childhood interrupted by war. His life took a major detour when the Germans invaded. His tales of living through the war will give you chills. It’s one thing to read history,but when you read it written by someone who lived it, it truly comes to life. My hat’s off to all who have the courage to share their stories—the good and the bad. Vlamis is candid, and ultimately, his tome feels exactly as it was intended—like sitting with a grandfather and listening to his story.

Buy it on Amazon

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Revisiting Report to Greco by Nikos Kazantzakis

Simon and Schuster, Inc. (June 6, 1965)

Back in January‘s edition of My Greek Books, I shared with you that I started reading Report to Greco. The book, which is the closest we get to a Kazantzakis autobiography, is a literary gift. This volume is rich in information about the late author, as well as an overflowing fountain of his words of wisdom. I didn’t finish it then. I still haven’t finished it. But something always draws me back. And I can only read a few pages at a time. I found that fascinating, especially since I love Kazantzakis’ works. You’d think I’d devour it. Then one day it hit me, like a revelation.

My Greek Reads January 2021_Report to Greco by Nikos Kazantzakis
Read it slow. Savor it.

You must take your time with Kazantzakis. Do not rush. For each word is a morsel to savor, to digest slowly, for the thoughts, impressions, and wisdom to metabolize. They absorb into our tissues, into our souls, to nurture our lives. Then we get hungry again and go back to savor once more.

Buy it on Amazon

My Greek Books—October 2021 Edition

Well, that’s it for this month’s edition of My Greek Books! Did you notice the Cretan theme? Honestly, I hadn’t made the connection until I started this piece. I guess that’s a gentle nudge from the universe to get back to one of my favorite places on earth!

Well, I’ve got a stack of new books calling my name, so I’m off to the wonderful world of a new story. Check back next month to find out what I’ve been reading.

Read more My Greek Books:

June 2021 Reads

May 2021 Reads

“Greek Books” from the WindyCity Greek Archives

Chasing Petalouthes’ by Effie Kammenou

‘Remember for Me’ by Diana Tarant Schmidt

‘Hiking the Holy Mountain’ by John McKinney

Maria A. Karamitsos

Maria A. Karamitsos is a journalist, author, and poet. She's the founder & former publisher/editor of WindyCity Greek magazine and former associate editor & senior writer for The Greek Star newspaper. Maria currently pens a literary column for NEO magazine and also contributes to Greek City Times and TripFiction. Her work has been published in The Magic of Us-A Moms Who Write Poetry Anthology, The Pen Poetry Magazine, Voices of Hellenism Literary Journal, Highland Park Poetry, GreekCircle magazine, The National Herald, GreekReporter, Harlots Sauce Radio, Women.Who.Write, KPHTH magazine, XPAT Athens, and more. Maria has contributed to two books: Greektown Chicago: Its History, Its Recipes and The Chicago Area Ethnic Handbook. She's currently working on her 1st novel.

1 Comment

  1. Rikkos

    “Lost Child of Greece” was a wonderful and informative read. It was powerful, Amalia recounted the historic horrible conditions after WWII in Greece and then the children that became victims of a male dominant society. The picture of her on the cover speaks the condition loud and clear. Then the government hosted part of the “Black Market” by turning the blind eye and expediting the export of infants and toddlers to other countries. Amalia was one of the miracle children being one of less then three thousand escaping poverty and possibly death. Of over three-hundred thousand orphans’ less than one percent escaped this Greek tragedy. Amalia outlined the mechanism orphans can use seeking family if desired and the trials and tribulation she went through in her own struggle. I truly found this to be a fine book and one for historic reference.

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