Christos Ikonomou * Archipelago * March 15, 2016 * 250 Pages
Good Lord, this is one depressing book. Page after page, story after story of the most awful things people have to bear. It is dark and heavy, with most characters living lives that are hopeless, chaotic, and unstable.
I echo the other reviewers who have praised author Ikonomou for so powerfully capturing the poverty, despair, and destitution people are experiencing in Greece’s garbage economy. But what struck me most about this book is how negatively women are portrayed–always helpless, sad, borderline crazy. They are abandoned and oblivious and, even though they are the ones keeping their families together, they still somehow come off as weak. They are raped and whored out A LOT. Even in the stories where they are the main (and sometimes the only) characters, they always play second fiddle to the men. Is this a cultural thing? Is this simply an accurate portrayal of how women are treated in Greece? And is Ikonomou okay with it? Or is he trying to make a point against it? I’m not sure. But, yikes, it’s bleak.
Reading this book was depressing and eye-opening. If you read all the stories in one sitting, like I did, prepare to be overwhelmed with the sadness of it all. I wish I had chosen to digest them bit by bit. Instead, I zipped through it…and then had to have a good cry afterward. The book is powerful, but, wow, it’s a lot to absorb.