A Watermelon, a Fish and a Bible by Christy Lefteri

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A Watermelon, a Fish and a Bible by Christy Lefteri

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luci Davin
Reviewed by Luci Davin
Summary: Beautifully written debut novel about the Turkish invasion of Kyrenia, Cyprus in July 1974
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: April 2010
Publisher: Quercus Publishing
ISBN: 978-1849161275

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It is 20 July 1974 in the small coastal town of Kyrenia, Cyprus. The radio continues to report that the Turkish forces did not manage to invade, and that they were thrown back into the sea, even as the Greek Cypriot population realises that they have been invaded. The story of this novel is set over just eight days, and is told from the alternating viewpoints of three characters.

Kyriaki, nicknamed Koki, is a still young single mother who has been treated as an outsider since childhood by the others in the town. She is distraught when she finds her 11 year old son shot dead near the house.

Adem is Turkish – he used to live in Kyrenia and has now returned as one of the invading soldiers. While his colleagues search the houses for anything they can take and brutally assault everyone who has not fled, Adem is looking for his former lover Koki.

Meanwhile, an older man in London, Richard, is hearing the news of the place where he lived and loved as a young man after the war, when Cyprus was occupied by Britain.

This novel is quite sad, with many distressing and violent scenes. Koki is one of a group of women rounded up and held captive by the Turkish soldiers – many of the others were among those who said nasty things about her over the years, but now she tells them the story of her past. She takes a little girl called Maroulla whose mother has been killed under her wing.

I found this debut novel, by an author who was born in 1980 to Greek Cypriot parents living in exile in London, very powerful and moving – I was quite upset and angry about what was happening to the characters several times. There are a lot of violent and distressing scenes, including some of the group of women being taken off to be gang raped and returned battered and bleeding. It is beautifully written, and explores whether the main characters can come to terms with their past and present. It has made me want to know more about Cyprus and its history. I read it very quickly as I wanted to know what happened to Koki and Maroulla.

Thank you very much to the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Another novel about Cyprus and its history, in the 1950s, is Swimming to Ithaca by Simon Mawer. Another story of war and violence in a country which was formerly under British rule, also written by a young woman born after the events described, is Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, about the Biafran War of 1969-1972.

Buy A Watermelon, a Fish and a Bible by Christy Lefteri at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Watermelon, a Fish and a Bible by Christy Lefteri at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy A Watermelon, a Fish and a Bible by Christy Lefteri at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy A Watermelon, a Fish and a Bible by Christy Lefteri at Amazon.com.


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