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Facing Athens: Encounters with the Modern City

3.39  ·  Rating Details ·  33 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
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
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published June 9th 2004 by North Point Press
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Aug 10, 2012 Jessi rated it really liked it
As part of a class that I was taking, I was required to read this book and write a 12 page analysis of it. Overall, I enjoyed the book very much, although I probably would not have read it if not for this class. I felt like it offerred a very refreshing and "real" explanation of Greek society as it was in 2004. It was a nice change from the instructors other course material, which by and large painted a rosy glow on all things Greek. I think that the current crisis in Greece shows that things th ...more
Oct 20, 2008 Brett rated it it was ok
Sarrinikolaou paints modern Athens as a city of contradictions. True enough. Two major deficiencies, however, quickly surface in Sarrinikolaou’s account: purpose and perspective. At times, “Facing Athens” has the feel of a city tour, examining the changing neighborhoods around the capital. At other times, “Facing Athens” is the personal memoir of a Greek-American revisiting the homeland of his childhood. While this juxtaposition has great potential, it is done sloppily here, giving the reader t ...more
Jul 07, 2009 Louis rated it it was ok
Shelves: greece
An American immigrant returns to the city of his birth after living in New York for 20 years.While I looked forward to this book on one of my favorite cities, I was disappointed by the fact that he took a negative view/stance on everything. From the "racism" of the Greeks towards the immgrants (Albanians, Kurds etc.) to the disparity between the rich and the poor. I guess this is not what I expected and maybe he was trying to find the Athens seen through the eyes of a 10 year old (when he left G ...more
Dec 03, 2008 Lisa rated it it was ok
I lived in Athens 20 years ago, and was interested in reading about how someone who also had been away from the city described it. For that reason, the book engaged me, but I found that the chapters were very disconnected, and I didn't think the end wrapped up well. The interjection of childhood memories and family stories was a little confusing. The main idea I leave the book with is that Athens is being changed by immigration and overdevelopment, and there is local resentment. Sarrinikolaou do ...more
Nov 25, 2013 Amanda rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction-2013
I have had the great privilege of being mentored by Mr. Sarrinikolaou during my time at Columbia University, and reading his book definitely been enlightening.

The writing is explicit and concise, while being descriptive and telling. I enjoyed the flashbacks to his younger days and seeing Athens through his ten year old eyes, while seeing the contrast of Athens in 2004. I had no idea what Greece was like other than recent news, so it was interesting to see where Greece has been and where it is t
Aug 18, 2009 okyrhoe rated it really liked it
I read this book a few days prior to the Athens Olympic Games.
And when they were finally over, I couldn't help but wonder what Sarrinikolaou would have said about the fuss Greek commentators made over the Datsun truck with watermelons in the Games' closing ceremony, as well as the street violence that erupted in Omonia square after the Greece vs. Albania soccer match. These events certainly add weight to Sarrinikolaou's assertions concerning the contemporary Athenian social landscape.
Aug 20, 2008 Kendra rated it liked it
Another quick read, this book agreed with my own perspective of Athens. The author has a much deeper relationship with the city, however, and explored regions I did not. A good read for anyone who has been to Athens.
Aug 11, 2009 Deborah rated it really liked it
Shelves: greek-related
not much of a plot, but the vignettes of life in current-day Athens really resonated with me. The author's perspective aligns with mine so closely, but he's done the leg-work on issues I've always wondered/railed about!
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