Black Greek Coffee by Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou

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Black Greek Coffee by Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou

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Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Short stories, set in Greece, which look at the dark side of Greek domestic life. They're rewarding and reveal a great deal about the people involved. Definitely recommended. Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: September 2014
Publisher: Matador
ISBN: 978-1784620356

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If your experience of Greece is as a tourist then you'll almost certainly think of it in terms of history, mythology and startlingly white buildings against sapphire blue sky and sea. It looks idyllic, but there's a darker side to Greek life, explored by Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou, in Black Greek Coffee - a neat metaphor for the lives she looks at: sharp, bitter but ultimately addictive. In twenty three short stories she illuminates the chauvinism and superstition, the concepts of honour and the status of women, the dominance of religion and the lives led by ordinary people. They sound like grand themes, but the stories are grounded in domesticity and there will be few people - in any country - who have not been touched by one of the problems.

It's usually axiomatic that in any collection of short stories there will be some which are strong - and some which are not, but I didn't find any of the stories to be weak. I had favourites though. The opening story - My Patent Leather Shoes - tells of the steep learning curve of a boy who discovers the true nature of the relationship between his mother and his godfather. Sozou-Kyrkou nails Christophoros' thought processes and value judgements perfectly.

The final story is My Pappous and His G43. The G43 is a rifle which the narrator's grandfather had brought home from the war and since then he'd been obsessive about cleaning it, instructing his grandson as he did so and telling him the story of how the rifle came into his ownership. He alone from his platoon had survived a German attack and he was obviously wracked by survivor's guilt. They had to be prepared for the coming war - even when old age took its sad toll on the old man. There's an elegant understanding of the ravages of war - even after many years.

The story which made me cry was Forty days. Evangelina has given birth to a baby boy but she's not married. She would keep the child and bring him up but her family are adamant that they will not suffer the shame. The child is taken from her - to go to another family - and Evangelina is cold shouldered by her father. Her only comfort is a woman who brings the baby to her each night so that she can feed him. The tension in the story builds strongly and I'm unashamed to say that I wept when I found out what had happened.

Sozou-Kyrkou has a talent for setting the scene and developing character in just a few words, be it the young boy who can't imagine that his obese godfather is actually his father, or the old man who refuses - even at the end - to be separated from his rifle. You believe in them and feel for them. She doesn't patronise her readers either - you're going to have to put effort into reading the stories, work out what is happening, but the rewards are there for those who do. I'm not normally a fan of short stories - I usually find them all too easy to put down - but this wasn't the case with Black Greek Coffeeand I'd like to thank the publisher for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Problems with People by David Guterson.

You can read more about Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou here.

Bookinterviews.jpg Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

Buy Black Greek Coffee by Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Black Greek Coffee by Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou at

Buy Black Greek Coffee by Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Black Greek Coffee by Konstantina Sozou-Kyrkou at


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