My Greek Books
Welcome back to My Greek Books! Reading and writing go hand-in-hand, so I cherish my reading time. It’s self-care time. Relaxing time. And as a writer, it’s also learning time. This month’s reads take me to Istanbul, Ancient Greece, and the beauty of nature.
Keep going to find out what I’ve been reading!
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A Recipe for Daphne by Nektaria Anastasiadou
Hoopoe (February 1, 2021)
About the author
Istanbul-based Author Nektaria Anastasiadou writes stories that explore the complex relationship of Greeks and Turks in her storied city. She speaks Greek, English, French, Italian, and Spanish, all beautiful and rich languages and cultures. Imagine the ways she can connect to other cultures through language, and the glorious fusion of ideas and thoughts in her head!
She’s the recipient of numerous accolades, including the 2019 Zografeios Agon, a Greek-language literary award founded in 19th-century Constantinople. She was longlisted for the 2022 Dublin Literary Award, a finalist with Honorable Mention in the 2022 Eric Hoffer Book Award, and a 2021 Women’s National Book Association (US) Great Group Read. A Recipe for Daphne is her first novel. Nektaria’s forthcoming novel is written in the Istanbul Greek dialect.
American-born Daphne visits her Greek Aunt Gavriela in Istanbul, also her parents’ birthplace. She receives a warm welcome from Gavriela’s Rum Greek Orthodox friends. But the 1955 Pogrom is still fresh in their minds. She advises Daphne to keep the family secret, because things are complicated in Istanbul, where people who lived side-by-side for centuries, faced a culture clash of epic proportions, and still struggle to re-learn how to live peacefully.
Two men fall for her, an older widower and church cantor; and a mama’s boy and master pastry chef. Each wishes to marry a “nice Rum girl”. Her mother tells her to not get too comfortable there because it’s not a good place for someone like her. But Daphne feels her roots take hold and her heart sings. She considers a life there. Does she fall in love? Will she move? Will the long-held secret thwart her plans?
My Greek Books review
Istanbul is on my list of places to visit, and this book transported me there. Nektaria Anastasiadou skillfully traversed the cultural divide to bring us an enchanting tale of the storied city where the past still haunts its residents. She pays tribute to the small-but-mighty and proud Greek community of Istanbul, and highlights how people try to quiet the ghosts of the past to live together in peace, at this crossroads of East and West. I’m looking forward to her new book.
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Galatea: A Short Story by Madeline Miller
Ecco (November 8, 2022)
About the author
Madeline Miller channeled her passion for the classics into a career. She earned an MA in Classics from Brown University and teaches Greek, Latin, and Shakespeare. Her first novel, The Song of Achilles (Ecco, 2012), won the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction (now called the Women’s Prize for Fiction). An instant New York Times bestseller, it was shortlisted for the 2013 Stonewall Books Award in Literature and is available in 25 languages. Madeline’s second novel, the international bestselling Circe (Little Brown & Company, 2018), was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction.
In 2020, the author came to the Chicago area as part of “One Book, One Community,” an annual program series sponsored by libraries in Libertyville, Wheeling, and Lincolnshire, IL. A most engaging speaker, she captivated the audience with her great ability to bring the ancient myths to life and examine them from different perspectives.
Galatea was originally published in 2013, but with a new afterword, was re-released in 2022. In this story, we revisit the myth of Galatea and Pygmalion. When the statue of Galatea carved as the perfect woman comes to life, her sculptor, Pygmalion, falls in love with her and they marry. Obsessed with his beautiful creation, he wants to keep her away from the world. Doctors and nurses tend to her and keep her confined to a bed. Galatea wants to know the world. She wants to be free—free to care for her daughter and free to experience life. And she’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
My Greek Books Review
A short story of less than 50 pages, Galatea packs a punch. Told from Galatea’s point of view, this bold reimagining of the story weaves in themes of misogyny, jealousy, and the objectification of women, but also is a testament to women’s strength and courage. The jealous Pygmalion fears he’ll lose her, perhaps because he isn’t worthy of her. Galatea must empower herself to break free. And so, in her, we all see that we have the innate power to reach our goals, and overcome obstacles others place in front of us. No matter who you are or where you come from, you have the power to make your dreams comes true. In this masterful reimagining, Madeline Miller shows us that we’ve had the power all along. Looking forward to her next work.
Read my review of Circe here.
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Shaded Pergola by Eleni Traganas
Tropaeum Press (June 29, 2022)
New York-based Author, Poet, Fine Artist, Musician, and Composer Eleni Traganas published her critically acclaimed debut novel, Twelfth House (Seaburn) in 2009. A multi-talented creator and performer, Eleni is a Julliard-trained concert pianist and composer. Her artwork has been featured in more than 40 national exhibitions. Her writing has been published in numerous literary journals.
Shaded Pergola is a collection of haiku and short poems, along with pen & ink sketches and botanical illustrations that highlight the beauty of nature and evoke reflection.
My Greek Books review
Eleni Traganas presents a lovely collection that leads us through the glories and mysteries of nature, from seed to decay, life to death. Rendered with her eloquent words and deft pencil strokes, Eleni adeptly leads us through an exploration of the flora and fauna that inspires reflection and reconnect us to Mother Earth.
Buy it on Amazon
My Greek Books—February 2023 Edition
That’s it for this month. Check back next month for the next edition of My Greek Books. Until then, Happy Reading!