First published in Greek in Greece in 2010. English language translation by John Cullen published by Other Press today, the 20th June 2017.
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How I got this book:
Received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A novel at once metaphorical and iconoclastic, The Parthenon Bomber exposes the painful and maddening paradox of contemporary Greece. “Blow up the Acropolis” was the 1944 call to action by the surrealist circle the Harbingers of Chaos. Sixty years later, a young man obliges. The Parthenon has been destroyed, the city orphaned. Is it still Athens? All eyes are on the empty hill, now smoky and ashen. Cries of distress, indifference, and fanaticism fill the air. What were his reasons? How will he be punished for this unspeakable act of violence? What does it mean for Greece, now deprived of its greatest symbol? This provocative tale reveals the unique dilemma of a country still searching for an identity beyond its past as the birthplace of Western civilization.
Originally published in Greece seven years ago, The Parthenon Bomber has only now been translated into English and is an intense and unusual novella. The story is told from a number of viewpoints beginning with the testimony of a man known as Ch K who, inspired by a Second World War philosophy, charged himself with the destruction of The Parthenon. As readers we do not know if his words are true or even if they are genuine, but the confession is certainly compelling in its portrayal of insane single-mindedness. I loved this strong start to the book and was also moved by the later testimony of a firing squad soldier. I could have done with fewer witness statements although I appreciated that these brief paragraphs allowed a brief respite from other chapter's intensity.
Surrealist poet Yorgos Makris did exist and did actually call for the destruction of all monuments in order to free Greece from her hankering for her triumphal past. This reasoning did resonate with me as a similar rose-tinted nostalgia affects many people in Britain, but I found the idea of destroying stone monuments in order to achieve such mental freedom a bizarre concept. Chrissopoulos seamlessly blends that past with our modern-day fear of wanton terrorism to create this powerful insight into a bomber's psyche and also into the thoughts of people he leaves effectively bereaved by the loss of their treasured icon.
Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Christos Chrissopoulos / Novellas / Books from Greece