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Lagraziana's Kalliopeion

This is a blog about my reads as well as everything related to them.

My taste is for good quality literature - old and new. Some of it I review here or on my main book blog Edith's Miscellany.



An Old Salt Who Doesn’t Need Eyes to See: Swell by Ioanna Karystiani

Die Augen Des Meeres - Ioanna Karystiani, Michaela Prinzinger Swell - Ioanna Karystiani, Konstantinos Matsoukas

Abridged version of my review posted on Edith’s Miscellany on 4 October 2013

The opening scene of Swell takes place five days after New Year 1997. A couple of seamen watch a white cat balancing recklessly on the railing of a Greek merchant ship anchored off the South Australian coast at Port Pirie. The cat called Maritsa is the constant companion of Mitsos Avgustis, the vessel’s seventy-five-year-old captain who has passed virtually all his life at sea. He’s a very skilled mariner and highly revered by the entire crew made up of Greeks, Russians and Romanians, but his family and the owner of the ship want him to retire. His wife Flora, his two daughters and his son haven’t seen him once in twelve years and reproach him with disinterest in the family. His lover Litsa has kept waiting for Mitsos Avgustis in her house in Elefsina in vain for just as long as his family and yet she doesn’t hold it against him. When Captain Flora travels to Kobe to persuade her husband to come back home to Greece with her, she makes a revelation which gives his actions and his stubbornness an unexpected dimension. It needs a new crew member and an almost disaster in the middle of the Indian Ocean to make him rethink his attitude towards family and life on land.

Swell is an impressionistic novel with many flashbacks and recurring changes of perspective. In addition, Ioanna Karystiani unfolds the story of Captain Mitsos Avgustis and the people who are a part of it either in fact or in memory at a slow pace putting together seemingly unrelated episodes and memories. As the story progresses with the rolling swell of the oceans, it fuses and reveals a complete picture. The plot makes think of Homer’s Odyssey with two Penelopes doomed to staying at home and waiting, one cold and nagging, the other warm and loving.

For me Swell by Ioanna Karystiani has been a pleasure to read. It’s literary fiction as I like it – thus I recommended it.

For the full review please click here to go to my blog Edith’s Miscellany.

Source: http://edith-lagraziana.blogspot.com