A legendary city seen afresh from an expatriate's point of view
In this original and radiant book, George Sarrinikolaou, a native Athenian expatriated to America, strips Athens of its clichés to reveal a city straining under the passions and burdens of early-twenty-first-century life.
Modern Athens exists in the shadow of its ancient past: cradle of civilization, birthplace of democracy, inspiration for the Olympic Games. But as the city prepares to host the 2004 Summer Olympics, it faces challenges quite unlike those depicted in mythology and epic poetry. As Sarrinikolaou walks through the city, striving to face the Athens of his childhood head-on, he encounters people who reveal the demythologized city: newly wealthy Greeks at a Las Vegas-style nightclub; Gypsies building a middle-class house amid their squalid encampment; Kurdish and Eastern European immigrants seeking day labor in Omonia Square; aged Athenians wistfully recalling the past as their neighborhood crumbles around them. In their stories, Sarrinikolaou sees the economic, social, and historical forces that are shaping Athens today.
This is the Athens that even many Athenians see only in passing, and in Facing Athens Sarrinikolaou claims it for himself, a perennial visitor, and also for the reader, who, in effect, visits the city through his gritty, lyrical, unstinting, yet finally affectionate portrait of the place.
""Facing Athens is a fine book--a sober and haunting ode to a lost city, to memory, to the passage of time and the folly of men."" --Rosemary Mahoney, author of The Singular Pilgrim