My Greek Books
Hope you’ve been getting in some good reading! This time, I’ve read books set in Corfu, Asia Minor, Greece/US–all fictional stories with true events.
So, let’s get to it! Keep going to find out what I’ve been reading.
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Where the Wandering Ends by Yvette Manessis Corporon
Harper Muse (September 6, 2022)
By “day”, Greek-American Yvette Manessis Corporon is the Emmy Award-winning Senior Producer for EXTRA. She’s also the international best-selling author of When the Cypress Whispers (Harper, 2014) and Something Beautiful Happened (Howard, 2017). Each of her books take her back to her ancestral Corfu and include true elements. This daughter of Greek immigrants is a native New Yorker. She’s received numerous accolades for her work, including the Silurian Award for Excellence in Journalism and the New York City Comptroller and City Council’s Award for Greek Heritage and Culture.
About Where the Wandering Ends
It’s 1946 on the island of Corfu. Greece had emerged from the Nazi Occupation of WWII, but was about to pulled into a brutal Civil War. The islanders, like most Greeks, were poor, struggling to find their footing and move forward. Marco, a 10-year-old boy, is likely the poorest. This is something the family isn’t used to, as his grandmother worked for the royal family at Mon Repos. His mother was born there, and was a playmate to Prince Philip. She clings to a promise made to her mother after the royals went into exile, hoping it will someday save her son.
Marco and Katerina have been best friends forever. Tragedy strikes, and Marco must leave the village. His mother’s wish was to take him to Queen Frederica, who’d stood up to the communists, and rescued and sheltered children during the war. After a tearful goodbye, Katerina’s family leaves the village as well. Just before, they vow to be each other’s family forever, and return to the village to meet. A series of events happen that take years to unravel. Where do they end up? Will they find each other again? You’ll have to read it to find out!
My Greek Books Review of Where the Wandering Ends
I’ve enjoyed all of Yvette Manessis Corporon’s books and this one is no exception. Through Marco and Katerina, as well as they’re families—and his mother’s best friend Clotho—we are reminded how friends become family and sometimes come to mean so much more. Spanning more than 40 years, this is a story about a longing for home. But sometimes, home isn’t always a place. It could be a place, a person, a feeling. Where the Wandering Ends is heart-wrenching story of betrayal, secrets, and struggle, and the enduring bonds of friendship. Yvette Manessis Corporon weaves history into a story that you won’t soon forget.
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Ripped at the Root: An Adoption Story by Mary Cardaras
Spuyten Duyvil (September 1, 2021)
Mary Cardaras, PhD is an Assistant Professor and Department Chair of Communication at Cal State East Bay. She’s been an educator since 1991, and teaches journalism and political communications. For the past 40 years, she’s been a news producer, journalist, and documentary filmmaker. She’s also a Greek-born adoptee, and has become an advocate of other Greek adoptees, to help them find their roots, get access to their records, and regain their rights as Greek citizens.
She’s also the author of Fear, Power, and Politics: The Recipe for War in Iraq after 9/11 (Lexington Books, 2013) and Documentary Film (Cognella Academic Publishing, 2016). A new book is coming in January, and I’ve had the privilege to read it. I can’t wait to tell you about it. All I can say, is it has to do with Greek adoptees. Check back here in January to learn all about it!
About Ripped at the Root
Ripped at the Root is the story of Dena Poulios, a Greek adoptee, born in 1958 and taken from her biological family, and her quest to find them. Readers will follow her with her adopted family in Ohio, to her search for answers.
My Greek Books Review of Ripped at the Root
Dr. Mary Cardaras, herself a Greek-born adoptee searching for answers, tells this story like no one else can. Because it’s her story, too. Her insightful prose captures these tragic events and pulls at our heart strings. It compels us to make sure these events don’t repeat—and that all the adoptees can learn their truth. Ripped at the Root casts a bright light on the Greek adoption scandal, and why it is so vital to everyone involved to find their answers, their peace of mind, their roots. Our roots run deep and connect us through the miles and generations But, for Mary, Dena, and countless others, someone cut those roots, not realizing they would regenerate, and stretch across those miles, needing to connect. And they must. Add this one to your list.
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Land of Aeolia by Ilias Venezis, Translated by Therese Sellers
Denise Harvey (June 9, 2021)
Ilias Venezis, born Ilias Mellos in 1904 in Aivali in Asia Minor, died in Athens in 1973. He’s considered to be one of the major Greek novelists, part of the “Generation of the ‘30s”. He moved to Athens in 1932, where he worked for the Bank of Greece until 1957, when he retired. A prolific author, he wrote novels, short stories, histories, travelogues, and newspaper articles. In 1957, he became the first Greek writer from Asia Minor to be elected to the Athens Academy. He wrote Land of Aeolia in 1944, during the German Occupation in Greece.
Translator Therese Sellers is a Philadelphia, PA native. At the Germatown Friends School and at Harvard College, she studied Ancient Greek. While at Harvard, she also studied Demotic Greek, as well as Modern Greek poetry with George Savidis. In 1987, she traveled to Greece to follow the traces of Eva Palmer Sikelianos. She built a home in the Peloponnese, connecting her to her adopted homeland. She earned a PhD in Modern Greek Literature and Translation from the University Professor’s Program of Boston University, in 1991. Sellers taught Greek and Latin for many years. She’s the author of Alpha is for Anthropos, a collection of nursery rhymes she composed to teach Ancient Greek to children.
Sellers fell in love with Land of Aeolia, and when she realized that the English translation was missing significant amounts of text, altering the story, she vowed to tackle a new translation herself.
About Land of Aeolia
Aeolia is an ancient coastal region of northwestern Asia Minor (including Lesvos) where the Aeolians founded several cities around 1100 BC. It’s mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, as “the island kingdom of Aeolus, the ruler of the winds”. The story is set in the Kimindenia Mountains near ancient Aeolia where Ilias spent his summers at his grandparents’ farming estate. This fictional account of the author’s life brings us to Asia Minor in the early 20th century, before the Greek expulsion from the region. The boy in the story is named Petros, and we follow his adventures with his 4 sisters, his mother, and grandparents. From tales of howling jackals, to hunters, smugglers, Turkish soldiers, and mysterious strangers, we follow the siblings, and the narrator shares the events as they happen through his young eyes.
My Greek Books Review of Land of Aeolia
Therese Sellers has done a fabulous job in her translation of Ilias Venezis’ classic, Land of Aeolia. I can totally see where parts may have been deleted, as some things are difficult to translate. I can hear some of the Greek phrases in my head, like when someone is asked if another person is still alive. The response—a very Greek colloquialism. “He lives and reigns”—«ζει και βασιλεύει» in Greek.
Someday I will try to read this in its original Greek. The gorgeous prose evokes stunning imagery. You follow everything. The world is painted so vividly and colorfully, you forget you’re supposed to be seeing it through the eyes of a child. I so enjoyed reading the poetic lines, particularly when trees and mountains speak. Perhaps, then, that is the innocence of a child coming through, because children are very intuitive and see things we don’t—because we’ve forgotten to look for it, or it’s been conditioned out of us. Add this one to your to-be-read list!
My Greek Books—November 2022 Edition
That’s it for this month! Can’t wait to share my next book picks. Check back in December, for a new My Greek Books. Happy Reading!
Check out some of my book reviews in the archives of WindyCity Greek magazine. Click HERE.