This memoir by the son of one of Jerusalem’s oldest families - in fact, one that had an entire neighbourhood named after them - is an excellent book aThis memoir by the son of one of Jerusalem’s oldest families - in fact, one that had an entire neighbourhood named after them - is an excellent book and an easy read.
Jacob Nammar sets the stage by describing his childhood and his family’s life in Jerusalem before the 1948 partition of Palestine. He then tells of how the family - one of the few who chose not to flee at the creation of Israel - were treated under the new regime. It’s a heart-breaking tale that involves imprisonment, impoverishment, displacement, discrimination, injustice and eventually emigration - told simply and eloquently.
But it's also an inspiring story. Despite the inhumane treatment Nammar was subjected to, he strove to make the most of his adverse circumstances and to integrate in the new milieu he found himself in, becoming an accomplished athlete. Sadly, his efforts and goodwill were no match for the bigotry and fanaticism of this new society.
The book's only shortcoming is the dearth of historical details, probably due to the author’s desire to avoid giving it a political slant. However, some basic dates and facts would have given a necessary background to the book, particularly for readers unfamiliar with the history of Palestine. For example, he says that “The day before my seventh birthday, May 15, 1948, was one of the most horrible of my childhood. The day marked the beginning of al-Nakba, the great catastrophe, the exodus of Palestinians from our lands.” It would be important here to explain that that was the date the British Mandate of Palestine came to an end thus allowing the creation of the state of Israel.
Admittedly, though, the author's insistence on avoiding politics and adhering to the human side of the story makes it that much more powerful. ...more
I struggled getting through this book but by the end of it I was glad I did and found it very rewarding. It gave me a visceral understanding of life iI struggled getting through this book but by the end of it I was glad I did and found it very rewarding. It gave me a visceral understanding of life in the Islamic Republic of Iran, more than anything I’d read in the media. The passages that talked about the different books were harder to get through particularly when they referred to books I hadn’t read. But the author’s personal life and experiences were illuminating and engrossing. ...more
An absorbing, poignant, heart-breaking yet hopeful page-turner of a memoir. Alan Cumming, through deftly managed flashbacks, keeps us in suspense andAn absorbing, poignant, heart-breaking yet hopeful page-turner of a memoir. Alan Cumming, through deftly managed flashbacks, keeps us in suspense and eloquently conveys his state of mind as he navigates the exploration of his childhood story on two fronts: that of the brutal abuse he received from his father and the mystery of the fate of his maternal grandfather. The result is mesmerising....more
In 1878 Cyprus became a British protectorate under Ottoman suzerainty in exchange for Britain’s support of the Ottoman Empire against Russia. When inIn 1878 Cyprus became a British protectorate under Ottoman suzerainty in exchange for Britain’s support of the Ottoman Empire against Russia. When in 1914 the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War on the side of the Central Powers, Britain annexed Cyprus. At the conclusion of the war, with the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, Cyprus became officially a British colony.
The author, a historian, toured Cyprus in 1879, a few months after Britain took over the island. This book is an account of his travels around the island, accompanied by British officials, and provides a fascinating glimpse of what Cyprus was like at the time while reminding us that the British era was not one monolithic period.
This is by no means an objective account. The author is very much a product of Britain's colonial era, with a distinct sense of superiority and quick to pass judgement from that perspective. As far as he is concerned the British brought civilisation to the island.
Upon arriving, they encountered a backward society where practically no investment in infrastructure had been made, and quickly set up about correcting that. The author goes to great lengths to describe how bad the situation was and to praise the accomplishments of the British. He pointedly avoids attributing fault to the island's previous rulers but rather expresses contempt for the local population for not taking it upon themselves to invest in public works which would improve their lot.
In fact, criticisms come quite easily to him. He finds fault with people in every aspect of life from their behaviour, to their morals, down to their physical appearance.
"If lack of comeliness were crime, the Cadi of Nicosia would have much to do; if lack of comeliness were sin, not many of the women of Nicosia would be saved."
No-one is spared although he treats Turks more leniently than Greeks. But to his credit he also includes some criticism of his fellow countrymen - British soldiers in particular - for failing to appreciate the natural assets of the island.
Although I can see how one might take exception to such comments, which exemplify the colonial mindset, personally I found them rather entertaining. How can you not laugh at comments such as this:
“Here, we are in contact with both 'Greek' and 'Turk'. At present we are governing Cyprus under Ottoman Law. The Ottoman code contains articles which clash with what is called the 'moral sense'; not the moral sense of Orientals, whether 'Turk' or 'Greek', but with the moral sense of civilized Englishmen."
He does have an enormous appreciation for the island's natural beauty, its weather (praising the dry heat of Nicosia for its beneficial effect on health) and provides a wealth of interesting information on the history of the island and amusing vignettes of every day life. ...more
Το θέμα πολύ ενδιαφέρον: οι εμπειρίες υπαλλήλων των Κυπριακών Αερογραμμών κ' του αεροδρομίου Λευκωσίας την εβδομάδα του πραξικοπήματος τον Ιούλιο 1974Το θέμα πολύ ενδιαφέρον: οι εμπειρίες υπαλλήλων των Κυπριακών Αερογραμμών κ' του αεροδρομίου Λευκωσίας την εβδομάδα του πραξικοπήματος τον Ιούλιο 1974. Ιδιαίτερη έμφαση δίνεται στην τελευταία πτήση από Λονδίνο, που επέστρεψε στην Κύπρο τα χαράματα της 20 Ιουλίου, μέρα της Τουρκικής εισβολής, κ' τις προσπάθειες του κυβερνήτη α) να αποφύγει να επιστρέψει το αεροπλάνο στην Κύπρο ελπίζοντας να το διασώσει κ΄β) να κρούσει τον κώδωνα του κινδύνου για τις κινήσεις του Τουρκικού ναυτικού που παρατήρησε από την πτήση.
Του δίνω ένα παραπάνω αστέρι για τις ενδιαφέρουσες πληροφορίες σχετικά με την ιστορία του αεροδρομίου Λευκωσίας όπως κ' των Κυπριακών Αερογραμμών.
Η χρήση της γλώσσας είναι μάλλον άσχημη με κακή χρήση λέξεων κ' γραμματικά λάθη. Πχ ο συγγραφέας ανήκει στην τάξη ανθρώπων που πιστεύουν πως όλα τα επιρρήματα σε -ως μετατρέπονται σε -α στην δημοτική χωρίς να αναγνωρίζει πως σε ορισμένες περιπτώσεις οι δύο καταλήξεις υποδεικνύουν διαφορά στη σημασία (απλά - απλώς). Υστερεί πολύ επίσης η δομή, πχ επαναλαμβάνει τα ίδια πράγματα σε συνεχόμενες παραγράφους.
Το ύφος είναι υπερβολικά μελοδραματικό με ατεκμηρίωτους ισχυρισμούς τόσο για ιστορικά γεγονότα όσο κ' για το τι σκεφτόντουσαν μεγάλες ομάδες ανθρώπων μια δεδομένη στιγμή. Ενώ διηγήται γεγονότα, συνεχώς παρεμβάλει συναισθηματικά σχόλια σχετικά με την κατάσταση στην Κύπρο (την προδοσία του πραξικοπήματος, την βαρβαρότητα των Τούρκων, τον ηρωισμό Ελληνοκυπρίων κ' Ελλαδιτών), τα οποία αποσπούν την προσοχή από το κυρίως θέμα κ' σε κάνουν να αμφιβάλεις την αξιοπιστία των όσων παρουσιάζει σαν γεγονότα. Το άκρο άωτον του συναισθηματισμού του είναι όταν περιγράφει ένα Τούρκο συνταγματάρχη σαν "κοντοπάχουλο της κακιάς ώρας." ...more
This is the memoir of a young British doctor, straight out of medical school, who arrives in Cyprus in the spring of 1958 (while Cyprus was still a BrThis is the memoir of a young British doctor, straight out of medical school, who arrives in Cyprus in the spring of 1958 (while Cyprus was still a British colony) to work at the Nicosia hospital. He's green and not only does he have to learn to put medicine into practice but also to come to terms with the diverse culture and attitudes of the three communities on the island, Greeks, Turks and British.
These are the days of EOKA and inter-communal clashes but also a time when diseases like thalassemia are rampant on the island, all of which keep the hospital very busy and provide the author with ample material. There are some delightful episodes, some very dramatic ones, all well narrated.
Although a self-professed Hellenophile, he manages to look at all three sides with a fairly critical eye, identifying both positive and negative traits and behaviours in all parties concerned. He does so for the most part without arrogance or the sense of superiority one might expect of a member of the colonial power. In fact he's often quite critical of British attitudes towards the natives. But ultimately he's a product of his upbringing and times, which inevitably colour his conclusions and predictions in the last chapter despite its many prescient comments and accurate observations.
Overall an enjoyable and informative read particularly for those interested in the history and society of the island in that period. ...more
The perfect summer read, particularly so from a lounge chair on a Mediterranean balcony. I expected something light and pleasant and was amply rewardeThe perfect summer read, particularly so from a lounge chair on a Mediterranean balcony. I expected something light and pleasant and was amply rewarded and then some! Mediterranean Summer is a delightful account of a budding American chef's adventures on a private sailing boat owned by a very wealthy Italian couple who epitomise style and elegance and expect nothing but the best. There's just enough drama to keep you turning the pages, fascinating views of the worlds of cooking, sailing and the European jet-set, some very touching personal moments, mouth-watering descriptions of food and, as a bonus, several pages of recipes at the end. Moreover it's beautifully written and nicely paced - which is what surprised me the most. A joy to read! ...more
I knew nothing of the author and her prior work. I picked up this book - a memoir - mostly because I liked the title but also because the blurb on theI knew nothing of the author and her prior work. I picked up this book - a memoir - mostly because I liked the title but also because the blurb on the back cover sounded appealing. What I didn't expect was to be captivated from the very first couple of pages.
It's a story of loss and love and about the struggle to find our place in life between them or, rather, by embracing the two. The tone is light and easy, the story incredibly sad but hopeful, the language beautiful. The experience is profound. ...more
Πιο πολύ από ταξιδιωτικό, το βιβλίο αυτό αποτελεί το ημερολόγιο της συγγραφέως στη διάρκεια ταξιδιού της στην Ινδία, το Πακιστάν κτέλος στο ΑφγανιστάνΠιο πολύ από ταξιδιωτικό, το βιβλίο αυτό αποτελεί το ημερολόγιο της συγγραφέως στη διάρκεια ταξιδιού της στην Ινδία, το Πακιστάν κ΄τέλος στο Αφγανιστάν όπου ήταν κ΄η μοναδική Ελληνίδα που μπήκε στη χώρα κατά τη διάρκεια του πολέμου των Μουτζαχεντίν εναντίων των Ρώσων το 1988.
Ελεύθεροι συνειρμοί που δεν περιορίζονται στα του ταξιδιού αλλά συνδυάζουν τα όσα βλέπει κ΄εμπειράται με ιστορικές αναδρομές κ' αναμνήσεις από τα παιδικά, εφηβικά κ΄νεανικά της χρόνια, από άλλα ταξίδια τόσο σε χώρες της περιοχής - Ινδία, Νεπάλ - αλλά κ' στην Αυστραλία, χώρα του συζύγου της που τη συνοδεύει (υπομονετικά) σ' αυτό το ταξίδι.
Πρέπει να σημειωθεί πως η Αντωνοπούλου δεν είναι φίλη των σημείων στίξης με αποτέλεσμα οι προτάσεις της συχνά να διανύουν πάνω από μια σελίδα, με ελάχιστα κόμματα που να βοηθούν στο διαχωρισμό των σκέψεων, πράγμα που με δυσκόλεψε αρκετά στην αρχή. Αλλά έτσι κ΄το συνήθισα βρήκα το γράψιμο της αρκετά ενδιαφέρον κ' ευχάριστο. ...more