Reading list: Greece

The World Today Published 31 July 2015 Updated 7 December 2018 1 minute READ

The 13th Labour of Hercules: Inside the Greek Crisis
Yannis Palaiologos (Portobello Books £9.87)
From tax-dodging ship-owners to self-serving functionaries, the Greek state is all but immobilized by constituencies that are determined to resist change. These pathologies of the Hellenic polity are analysed by a bilingual Oxford graduate who has enjoyed success not only as a reporter but as a satirical playwright.

Greece’s odious debt
Jason Manolopoulos (Anthem £16.99)
This is another well-informed account of Greece’s path to economic ruin, this time by a financial whizkid who combines local knowledge with an outsider’s detachment. As the book shows, the frothy, feelgood years of growth which followed Greece’s entry into the euro were not just a product of Hellenic sleight of hand. Lots of outsiders colluded in the myth that all was well in Greece.

The House on Paradise Street
Sofka Zinovieff (Short Books £7.99)
As a well-connected Anglo-Russian who has lived for years in Athens, Zinovieff is a dab hand at presenting the elusive realities of Greece, whether through academic writing, memoir or, in this case, fiction. In this pacey novel, a multi-layered plot is unfolded by an Englishwoman who marries a Greek journalist many years her senior. The narrative interweaves the smoggy, sensuous world of present-day Athens with the events of the Second World War.

The Hill of Kronos
Peter Levi (Eland £12.99)
Few modern writers in English have had such a keen sense of the ancient and modern history of Greece, and such a deep and informed love for its landscape, as this translator, archaeology writer, sometime priest, and professor of poetry. In this book he vividly describes Athens under the colonels.

Eastern Mediterranean
Ivi Meleagrou (Moufflon £25.00)
A new translation by a Cypriot publishing house
of a novel by one of the most acclaimed fiction writers in modern Greek. This book intermingles the political with the psychological as an introspective female narrator describes the Greek-Cypriot struggle for union with Athens and the turbulent early years of the island’s independence.

Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain
Christopher Merrill (Random House, out of print)
The author is an American poet, reporter and teacher of creative writing who manages in this book to pull off a rare combination. He grasps the depth and power of the Greek spiritual tradition but he is immune to the dotty conspiracy theories to which practitioners of that tradition are prone. That makes him a sensitive guide around the monastic communities of Athos, as well as the more mysterious territory of the soul.