Author(s): Jorge Sotirios
'Graffiti over Marble' explores the human cost of the Greek economic crisis. With its myriad voices and vibrant characters, this memoir focuses on a turbulent drama played out in the street, inside the home, at the workplace and within cafes and tavernas. From Athens to the traditional village, from remote islands to the Balkan borderlands, a portrait emerges of a nation under seige.
Here you'll read about the conflicts between young and old, the devastating impact of austerity on a ravaged middle class which has fuelled the neo-Nazi menace, and the despair of refugees as Fortress Europe raises its drawbridge. An atmosphere of uncertainty hovers over Greece: a struggle between past and future with a nation's identity at stake.
"One of the most impressive and monumental books ever written on the impact of the economic crisis on the fabric, life and culture of the Greeks. Something between Ernest Hemingway's early journalism and Patrick Leigh Fermor's cultural description of Greece (with a pinch of Gonzo journalism).
- Prof. Vrasidas Karalis, University of Sydney
"If you are hankering for an informed but informal description of how Greece is handling the Crisis, then this book is for you. Jorge Sotirios takes you on a journey through a Greece rarely enhanced by carved marble, although chipped and broken marble does make an appearance alongside the graffiti shouting rebellion from crumbling walls. This is the real Greece; the gritty Greece, the Greece that lurks behind the myths and legends. Its hairy-bellied heroes spend their days wryly remembering their own past glories but dealing with the present with a stoicism much more rooted in reality than philosophy. Accompanied by a grumpy muse who has no time for the past, hates masculine weakness, and refuses to look back when forward is the only way to go, Jorge finds himself hurtling underground on the metro, past undiscovered statues, the unseen glint of silver coins, and the unsuspected presence of mosaic floors featuring the Goddess Aphrodite, for coffee dates in the dives of the common man. On a hillside in a suburb breathing political dissent, he must deal with the midnight dreamings of anarchists who perceive a role for him and the Australia he represents in their struggles against the status quo. With Camus as his companion, he visits Cohen’s Hydra and kisses blondes with soulful eyes and tobacco breath. While his physical peripato takes him across the country, his cultural peripato sends him deep into a past that is more meaningful to him than many of the people he meets. Is this travelogue, commentary or tribute? Whatever, clearly it is the Greece he loves. This is not a read it’s a ride – rollicking, interesting, loving, and a whole heap of fun."
- Kiriaki Orfanos
“Jorge’s frank and I would argue balanced near contemporary accounts of portraits of “Greece in Crisis” is a page turner for anyone wanting a summary account of how the bottom half of Greece is fairing going into the second decade of its great depression. By no means the first – and sad to say will not be the last of the narratives of a challenged early 21st century Greece. His work though is part of a broadening expanse of literature into the social, economic and political detritus of Southern Europe in general and Greece in particular. This is not a rehash of Nikos Dimou’s book “Unhappiness of being Greek”, nor the metaphysical pre-Helladic horror of Karalis’ ”Demons of Athens”. It is closer in prose sentiment to the New Greek Poetry that is emerging out of the ashes as exemplified in Karen van Dyck’s edited account “Austerity Measures” (Penguin). There is a clear eyed, but still humanely sincere insight that Jorge gives us with a useful prehistory to the crisis that goes back far as the most recent civil war – juxtaposed with his own retrieval of the shining if not overbearing classical ideals against the disappointing present of the simultaneous moment. If there is to be one frustrating point to his book is the nature of its unfinished nature. This story is caught mid-stream. Recovery is tentative and unclear. There are changes on the ground that are not fully formed, if not exciting. There are more sources of historical parallels (not just Greek) and precedent he (and we) can to draw on in this Depression. The Dorian Invasions, Hesiod’s anonymous histories the Hellenic peninsula’s 1100-700 BC “Dark Ages”, the decay and turbulence of the Frankish age of 1200-1300 Ads. Greece has been here before. That said, refreshingly it is clear eyed and unforgivingly even handed to the local politics and certainly not ideological bound by his impatience with Golden Dawn politics – and profound disappointment with the progressive element of the left. But he does not despair so much as bears witness to the social cost of this gordian knot of an ongoing Greek depression. His account points not to any solution, but how solutions are being iterated at the personal and local community level in the absence of more institutional progress. It is an account worthy of our attention and reflection."
- Peter Pontikis