Monday, 19 October 2009

A divided island: "Ledra Street" in Cyprus

As I mentioned in my previous blog: this work is another set of short stories: 'Ledra Street'. However this work is set in divided Cyprus (i.e. divided between Greece and Turkey). The setting of Ledra Street is particularly interesting, as this is a street which is divided in two within Nicosia - which is itself a unique example of a city divided between the two states since the Turkish intervention in 1974.

As such, this setting forms an interesting bridge between Western and Eastern 'Europe'. Having now finished Greece's "I'd Like", I have to say I have some similar misgivings as with the previous work: i.e. the stories included are very well written and engaging, but they reveal more about the psyche of the author than the wider setting of Cyprus.

That said, the title story is a telling tale of the division of this country; and some of the early stories really hit home in depicting a country which is both accessible to modern European tourists yet singularly divided because of its recent history. The story "Guided Tour" is particularly telling here, revealing the innermost thoughts of a Cypriot tour guide showing a group of British tourists the dividing wall between between Turkish and Greek Crypus. For the tourists it is a photo opportunity; for the guide it is both a chore and a painful reminder of how her country is divided. Having been on such a tour myself as a British tourist, I found this particular story especially disconcerting.

I must say, however, that as the book progresses, Nora's satirical edge loses its sharpness; and the last few stories - which are much more experimental in form - seem to lose their political and cultural focus, becoming (as with the previous Greek set of short stories) more introspective and so less of an observation of contemporary Cyprus.

But that said, I am pleased to have come across this work; which I believe is generally representative of both the country and its current literary scene.

I should mention that these stories are all from the southern (i.e. Greek) part of Cyprus. I considered including a northern Cyprus work, but felt that as Turkey is next - and as much larger states such as Greece and Turkey themselves are only getting one representative book - this would be inappropriate for this site. I hope that choosing a work set in the divided city of Nicosia goes some way towards ameliorating this decision.

And so onto Turkey, with a recent work by Orhan Pamuk (the novel: "Snow") - a Turkish author who has deservedly gained success and accolades way beyond his native homeland - I have read the first couple of chapters and have to say I am hooked already. I shall post an update soon...

No comments:

Post a Comment