A Picture of a Greek beach in the Aegean, showing beachgoers lying on beach chairs, wading into the water in front of some docked boats and crystal blue water that says: It's Not All Greek To Me: 5 Great Greek Books Translated to English
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It’s Not All Greek To Me: 5 Great Greek Books Translated Into English

Summer 2021 will go down for me as the year of the Imagination Vacation. The pandemic blues have us unable to travel to a cottage up north for two weeks like we’ve done previous years, for the second time now. Instead, I have envisioned the sights, sounds, and stories of the places I’d prefer to be whilst soaking up some rays in the solitude of my backyard garden. In case that came off as whiny and pretentious to you as it did to me when I read it back, I’m not complaining and am grateful to be able to do so.

It started with my post 5 Books I’d Take To The Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This week I find myself pining for Greece; more specifically, the island my husband’s family hails from in the Aegean. Most of his family is there, and sadly, they still have not met our 8-year-old son. A trip overseas would mean so much to many and will be long overdue when we finally go.

I made a book list when we actually travelled to the island back in 2008. I don’t think there was a single Greek author on the thing. I remember Corelli’s Mandolin and some Maeve Binchy Island story, but the rest completely escape me, and were on the lighter side of fluff. 

There was so much to do on the island that I barely had a chance to read the entire month we were there! Daily swimming trips, nights at the Platia (the portside square), and visiting all the wonderful homes of the family for delicious meals…always so. many. meals. Other than the plane ride there and back, there just wasn’t enough time to read.

Kalymnos was my first overseas trip, and the scene of my midnight marriage proposal amongst the audience of empty chairs on the moonless Missouri beach. Unable to see a thing, it was in fits of laughter that we had to wrestle our camera’s flash just to look at the ring on my finger, haha! Beautiful memories.

This more developed list I’m sharing has only Greek authors, the books being written in their mother tongue and eventually translated to English; hence, they are not all Greek to me!

You are welcome to humour me in my fantasy holiday, as we enjoy this list of 5 Great Greek Books Translated into English.


Book Cover for Uncle Petros and Goldbach's Conjecture by Apostolos Doxiadis showing an orange spiral staircase with a detailed iron railing seemingly swirling up infinitely.

Uncle Petros and Goldbach’s Conjecture sits at the top spot because of its gorgeous cover, but the story is captivating too. Tagged as a mystery, Uncle Petros’ nephew narrates as he seeks to understand his relative instead of shame him as others in the family do.

His Uncle’s life-long obsession with trying to decipher one of the oldest unsolved problems in number theory, Goldbach’s Conjecture, becomes a bonding force between the two, but to what end?

This short, highly-acclaimed mathematical tale steeped in philosophy is just the witty entry I need in my life right now, vacation or not. I look forward to reading this one the most of the bunch.


Book Cover for The Murderess by Alexandros Papadiamantis showing a close up of an animated hand splayed

This novella is going to make my skin crawl. I can feel the nerves climbing the back of my neck already. A deep character dive into a middle-aged Greek woman on the Aegean Island of Skiathos in the 1800s, The Murderess is the creepy stuff of legend.

When Hadoula comes to the hard-learned conclusion that there is no worse destiny than being born female, she takes it upon herself to set free the little angels born into her same fate. They can thank her later, I guess.


Book Cover for Deadline in Athens: An Inspector Costas Haritos Mystery by Petros Markaris showing the Parthenon in the background with a blue tinge making it appear like dusk.

Petros Markaris is said to be one of Greece’s most successful living authors, and it looks like the Inspector Kostas Haritos Mystery Series has a great deal to do with why.

Although shielding a charitable heart behind his veteran armour, Kostas is crusty, obsessive, bull-headed, and unhappily married. He is the type of raw character that schools a reader in the gritty nature of a position as eventful and corrosive as Inspector of a metropolis, in this case, Athens.

In Deadline In Athens (originally The Late Night-News), we are voyeurs to the elementary case of a brutally murdered Albanian couple that graduates into the interlacing tragedy of child trafficking and media deception.

I have the sense I’m going to want more from this series when I’m done with this book and am currently worried that they may not all be in English translation. 😕


Book Cover for The Third Wedding by Costas Taktsis showing the silhouette of a woman wearing a wedding dress, a veil, and a bouquet of flowers, on a white background.

Hopeful that there won’t be too much of this story lost in translation, as some English reviews have mentioned that the tale is better in its original form, The Third Wedding promises to be an enlightening journey through the eyes of two Athenian women in the 1800s. 

Costas Taktsis chronicles for us their struggles during the German Occupation of WWII, the Civil War, and possibly a taboo affair between them? I’m only guessing, as there is an LGBT tag on the Goodreads page, so forgive me if I’ve erred.


Book Cover for Z by Vassilis Vassilikos 25th Anniversary Edition with purple and red lettering.

Z is the heavy read of the bunch, and I mean that literally and for the intensity of its content. Considered a classic of Greek historical Fiction, I hope to use it as a window to the bitter history of a land and people that I’ve come to adore, as it details the assassination of Z, a communist party leader in the 60s.

A fictional yet courageous expose into the real corruption that permeated the political landscape of those years, the lack of truth and loyalty amongst the bureaucrats on blast for our disapproval. Vassili Vassilikos pulls back the curtain on the nefarious and destructive side of politics and people.

Where would you go for your imagination vacation?

Do you like to read when you’re away, and if so, do you spend time choosing books suited to your destination?