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Historical Fiction by Contemporary Greek Authors
You’ve heard of Mnemosyni, the Greek goddess of memory. Mythology buffs will know that she’s also the goddess of storytelling—and mother of the Muses! So, it’s only fitting to name a literary column in her honor. Here, you’ll learn about authors, poets, books, and all things “Greek” literary.
by Maria A. Karamitsos
Historical Fiction by Contemporary Greek Authors
Perhaps you’ve read historical fiction by the late Harry Mark Petrakis, among others. Even Jeffrey Eugenides delved into some Greek history in his acclaimed novel, Middlesex. But did you know there are many contemporary Greek authors writing compelling historical fiction? Here are some to check out.
Natalie Bakopoulos: A Michigan native, this author and educator’s debut novel, THE GREEN SHORE (Simon & Schuster, 2012) opens in Athens on the evening of the 1967 coup. SCORPIONFISH (Tin House Books, 2020) revisits the military dictatorship and its effect on modern-day Greece.
Alexander Billinis: Among the books by this Greek-American lawyer and educator is HIDDEN MOSAICS (CreateSpace, 2015), about two young men, one Greek, one Turk—doppelgangers—who meet by chance and delve into the complicated history of their countrymen and the possibility that they are part of the same mosaic.
Soulla Christodoulou: Greek-Cypriot-Brit Soulla Christodoulou typically writes women’s fiction; however, THE SUMMER WILL COME (Independently Published, 2018) is set during the 1974 invasion of Cyprus and follows two families as they escape the horrors of war.
Gus Constantine: New York native, Greek-Cypriot Gus Constantine is the author of ESCAPING CYPRUS (Create Space, 2015), based on true accounts of the invasion. ESCAPING CYPRUS II (Create Space, 2016) revisits the families when the past comes crashing in on them 40 years later.
Christopher Cosmos: ONCE WE WERE HERE (Arcade, 2020) by this Michigan-based screenwriter is based on true accounts. The story follows three young friends in WWII Greece who risk everything for a chance at survival, love, and a better life.
Billy Cotsis: This Greek-Australian documentary filmmaker has authored several non-fiction books, plus THE AEGEAN SEVEN TAKE BACK THE “ELGIN” MARBLES (Thorpe_Bowker 2022). Set against the backdrop of the looming Greek revolution, it traces a range of historical milestones from 1801-1817. Think of it as “Ocean’s Eleven” to rescue the Marbles. He’s also the author of 1453: CONSTANTINOPLE & THE IMMORTAL RULERS (Independently Published, 2020). Based on actual accounts and facts, the emperor’s secretary tells the history of Constantinople/Byzantium.
Nancy Econome: This Northern California Greek paid homage to her family’s diner, The Classic Grill, in her debut novel of the same name (Kafeneon Productions, 2021). George, now elderly, recounts his story, beginning just before WWII about growing up in his family’s diner—and in his older brother’s shadow—with a group of young immigrants who work in a fast-food restaurant. Though they are from different backgrounds, they relate to the immigrants’ plight, strong family values and expectations.
Sylvia Leontaritis: Also known from her blog, ‘Orthodox Mom’, the Ohio native is the author of several Orthodox books and devotionals. Her first novel, STEALING FREEDOM (September House Press, 2022), set in Greece during WWII, is about a young woman on Kalymnos who joins the Resistance and convinces her friends to stitch secret messages into doilies to help the movement to liberate the island—and Greece.
Yvette Manessis Corporon: This international bestselling author and Emmy Award–winning producer calls New York home. Her stories are set on Corfu and nearby Erikousa, a tiny island from which she has roots. Her latest, WHERE THE WANDERING ENDS (Harper Muse, 2022) takes us back to Corfu in 1946, during the war. She’s also the author of WHEN THE CYPRESS WHISPERS (Harper, 2014) about war, survival, and family secrets.
Lena Manta: One of the best-selling authors in Greece today, Manta has published several books, but to date, only two have been translated into English. In THE GOLD LETTER (Amazon Crossing, 2019), after her estranged grandfather’s death, a woman learns her merchant family was forced from Constantinople and fled to Athens. A generation later, secrets confront them there, when fate draws together families linked by heartbreak and betrayal. In THE HOUSE BY THE RIVER (Amazon Crossing, 2017), we meet a mother in a tiny Greek village, who survives WII, her husband’s death, and a changing Greece, but the hardest thing she faces is her daughters’ long absence.
Theodore Pitsios: Born in Greece, this Alabama-based author’s stories delve into the experience of illegal immigrants. His latest, WALKING IN THE LIGHT (Koehler Books, 2021) follows Seaman Kostas Karaoglou, who jumps ship in America in the 1960s in search of his American Dream. But nothing goes the way he thought. When he’s about to give up, a woman—a Cuban immigrant—offers him a way to get what he wants. But only on her terms. He’s also the author of SEARCHING FOR ITHAKA (Cosmos Publishing, 2013), the prequel to WALKING.
Yorgos Pratanos: The Athens-based journalist’s first novel is called, THE UNWANTED DEAD: The Shocking End of Zorba’s Heretical Author (Black Rose Writing, 2021). Nikos Kazantzakis was revered everywhere but his home country. The story chronicles the 10 days following his 1957 death, when his wife battles for a proper burial for him. Pratanos has stated that the book is 80% factual— only the dialogues are fictional.
There are more, plus many PhilHellene authors who also pen historical fiction, but this should get you started! See you next time for more of Mnemosyni’s Musings.