Facing Athens by George Sarrinikolaou
Encounters with the Modern City

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Synopsis

A legendary city seen afresh from an expatriate's point of view

In this original and radiant book, George Sarrinikolaou, a native Athenian expatriated to America, strips Athens of its clichés to reveal a city straining under the passions and burdens of early-twenty-first-century life.

Modern Athens exists in the shadow of its ancient past: cradle of civilization, birthplace of democracy, inspiration for the Olympic Games. But as the city prepares to host the 2004 Summer Olympics, it faces challenges quite unlike those depicted in mythology and epic poetry. As Sarrinikolaou walks through the city, striving to face the Athens of his childhood head-on, he encounters people who reveal the demythologized city: newly wealthy Greeks at a Las Vegas-style nightclub; Gypsies building a middle-class house amid their squalid encampment; Kurdish and Eastern European immigrants seeking day labor in Omonia Square; aged Athenians wistfully recalling the past as their neighborhood crumbles around them. In their stories, Sarrinikolaou sees the economic, social, and historical forces that are shaping Athens today.

This is the Athens that even many Athenians see only in passing, and in Facing Athens Sarrinikolaou claims it for himself, a perennial visitor, and also for the reader, who, in effect, visits the city through his gritty, lyrical, unstinting, yet finally affectionate portrait of the place.
 

About George Sarrinikolaou

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George Sarrinikolaou, born in Athens in 1970, immigrated to the United States with his family at the age of ten. He was educated at Cornell and Columbia, and worked as a journalist before turning to environmental policy.
 
Published June 9, 2004 by North Point Press. 165 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Facing Athens

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To correct his skewed perspective based on memory and loss, he sets out to walk the city and reacquaint himself with the seething urban forces of “greed, corruption, and racism.” In a series of ten loosely connected, engaging essays, the author focuses on different aspects of modern-day Athens, s...

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Publishers Weekly

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In this slender, frank memoir, journalist Sarrinikolaou revisits his native Athens, Greece, blending present and past narratives of a place once beloved and now wracked with greed, racism and viole

May 10 2004 | Read Full Review of Facing Athens: Encounters wit...

Publishers Weekly

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In this slender, frank memoir, journalist Sarrinikolaou revisits his native Athens, Greece, blending present and past narratives of a place once beloved and now wracked with greed, racism and violence.

| Read Full Review of Facing Athens: Encounters wit...

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