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Niki: A Novel (Paperback)
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A resilient Greek woman recounts her and her family’s extraordinary story at the end of her life, marked by the great historical events of the twentieth century.
Born in 1938, Niki, the daughter of the deputy secretary general of the Greek Communist Party, is swept up in turmoil before her first birthday: her parents are arrested, and she joins her mother in exile on an island near Santorini. Growing up, she experiences the Italian and German invasion, the Nazi occupation, and the civil war that came after, often caught between her socialist values and those of the right-wing establishment, to which half her relatives belong.
Through her memories and the stories of her family, with roots on both coasts of the Aegean Sea, Niki also tells the history of Greece and Asia Minor from the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth. Her remarkable tales, full of humor and verve in spite of hardship, are populated by working-class heroes, privileged elites, daring revolutionaries, and free-spirited bohemians.
About the Author
Christos Chomenidis was born in Athens, Greece. In addition to writing novels, Chomenidis has hosted his own nationally broadcast radio show, written scripts for cinema and television, and writes a column for Greece’s largest newspaper, Ta Nea. His novel Νiki won the 2021 European Book Prize, and his works have been translated into numerous languages.
Patricia Felisa Barbeito is Professor of American Literatures at the Rhode Island School of Design and a translator of modern Greek fiction and poetry. Her translations include Elias Maglinis’s The Interrogation, which was awarded the 2013 Modern Greek Studies Association’s Constantinides Memorial Translation Prize, M. Karagatsis’s The Great Chimera, and Amanda Michalopoulou’s God’s Wife, which was short-listed for the 2020 National Translation Award. Her shorter translations have appeared in PEN/America, Asymptote Blog, Words Without Borders, Catapult, InTranslation, and Exchanges.
“Niki is an extraordinary work of historical fiction. A sweeping look at Greek history told through the eyes of a woman whose life reflects the turmoil, hardships, tenacity, and profound love of family and country that so many experienced as they struggled to survive war, political turmoil, and the everyday hardships of life. Niki is at once a searing story of one woman’s experiences and a master class in modern Greek history. A must-read for readers interested in the intersection of history and humanity.” —Yvette Manessis Corporon, internationally bestselling author of Where the Wandering Ends, When the Cypress Whispers, and Something Beautiful Happened
“Niki is an exquisite novel about time, ideology, allegiance, and chance. Christos Chomenidis takes us on a powerful, moving ride through modern Greek history, highlighting personal and political turbulence and the inextricability of familial and national narratives. Patricia Felisa Barbeito’s spirited translation is energetic and emotionally resonant, and Niki’s unforgettable voice sings with the candid yet tender retrospection of a long, eventful life and an otherworldly, playful omniscience. Charming, raucous, compassionate, and smart. I loved it.” —Natalie Bakopoulos, author of Scorpionfish and The Green Shore
“A woman’s story becomes that of a country in this powerful, flamboyant novel.” —Historia
“Chomenidis achieves the most difficult task: transmitting to us History’s most emotional and human moments.” —To Vima
“In the most direct and remarkable way Chomenidis sheds light on people’s actions. As Milan Kundera puts it, ‘The novelist is neither historian nor prophet: he is an explorer of existence.’” —Kathimerini