It is in the best tradition of ‘subjective’ books where the subject is so sensitive, knowledgeable and talented that the result can only be a roaring success.
An engaging profile of Europe’s most paradoxical capital – old as the hills, yet inventing itself anew. Zinovieff, polyglot and trained anthropologist, reveals her adopted home town with wit and perspicacity, from its hectic history to its domestic idiosyncrasies… In the end, this is a love story.
In telling her story, she provides insights for anyone who might want to travel to the ancient city. (”There’s a definite knack to obtaining a taxi in Athens, which is something between catching a fish and public speaking to a restive crowd. You wave at any taxi, whether it has other passengers in it or
THE best way to understand the oddness of what it means to be Greek, the race which invented the concept of civilisation, is to become Greek yourself. Sofka Zinovieff docs just that. As an anthropologist, the author observes the process with an objective eye: as a wife and mother, it’s nothing less than total immersion.
Guidebooks, like so much else that comes in books, came early to Greece – and stayed there without much change. Olympic visitors in the Roman empire had the benefit of Pausanias, the pioneer traveller and geographer who told Games goers what they needed to know about the classical sites, the temples of Apollo, the statues
Sofka Zinovieff was never going to be ordinary. Descended from Catherine the Great on one side and the woman you see on your £5 note, the famous prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, on the other, the fairies at her christening seem to have bestowed her with more than the usual quantity of gifts. Beautiful, clever, sweet-natured
In the summer of 2001 Sofka Zinovieff accompanied her husband, Vassilis — first met when he was press officer to the Greek embassy in Moscow — on a posting back to Athens. This book is both an account of her enthusiastic, if often balked, attempts to transform herself into a Greek, and a vivid evocation
IF THERE is a single day when the modern Olympic movement can be said to have taken root, it must be April 10th 1896, when a Greek farm boy, Spyridon Louis, won the marathon in the first Olympic Games of modern times. At about 5 o’clock in the afternoon, the sweat-stained, dark-haired young man, with
Athens, among European cities, gets a lousy press. At the time of writing I neither know nor greatly care whether various Olympic venues have received their last lick of paint (or even more essential structural components). One of the biggest European environmental disasters of recent times is the new Eleftherios Venizelos airport – not because