The death of Ulysses

Rafael Puyol. Executive Vice President. IE Foundation

25 May 2016

La última obra de Petros Márkaris es una referencia básica de una de las mayores tragedias que ha tocado vivir a nuestra generación: la crisis de los refugiados.

Fans of crime novels with a Mediterranean flavor, like myself, are in seventh heaven thanks to the recent publication of three of the genre’s most revered exponents: Donna Leon’s The Waters of Eternal Youth, Andrea Camilleri’s latest, which is not yet out in English, and Petro Markaris’ The Death of Ulysses. 

All three are expert narrators of the political, social, and economic characters of the places where their stories take place: Venice for Donna Leon, Sicilia for Camilleri, and Greece, particularly Athens, for Markaris.  

I am a particular fan of Markaris, an ethnic Armenian born in Turkey but Greek by adoption, and always recommend his books. Through them, and his creation Commissioner Kostas Jaritos, one learns of the troubled recent history of Greece. His tetralogy of the crisis is a modern version of a Greek tragedy, told through the crime genre. And now, in The Death of Ulysses, Markaris has once again touched on contemporary events, in this case, the ongoing refugee crisis. 

The book discusses other issues in the eight short stories skillfully woven together, but the refugee tales provide a basic reference to one of the most dramatic human events to unfold in our times. Greece finds itself reliving the terrible events of the early 20th century, when its own people were forced to leave their homes in Turkey. 

Markaris brings to life the three places where he has spent his life: Turkey, Greece, and Germany. He tells stories of Turks in Germany and Greeks in Turkey: their lives, their fortunes, their aspirations, their problems, their persecution at the hands of xenophobic organizations such as the grey wolves in Turkey or Greece’s Golden Dawn, all told with the deceptively simple narrative of the great masters. Amid a drama of colossal proportions, reading Petros is a breath of fresh air. 

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