On a Mediterranean island divided, a man finds peace in a time of perilous unrest in this stunning memoir
In 1953, as the British Empire relaxes its grip upon the world, the island of Cyprus bucks for independence. Some cry for union with Athens, others for an arrangement that would split the island down the middle, giving half to the Greeks and the rest to the Turks. For centuries, the battle for the Mediterranean has been fought on this tiny spit of land, and now Cyprus threatens to rip itself in half. Into this escalating conflict steps Lawrence Durrell—poet, novelist, and a former British government official. After years serving the Crown in the Balkans, he yearns for a return to the island lifestyle of his youth. With humor, grace, and passable Greek, Durrell buys a house, secures a job, and settles in for quiet living, happy to put up his feet until the natives begin to consider wringing his neck. More than a travel memoir, this is an elegant picture of island life in a changing world.
“Brilliant depth of language . . . gathering slowly from the lighter delightful pages to its lost and questioning end. Never for a moment does [Durrell] lose the poet’s touch.” —The New York Times “The hospitality of local people, the quirky pace of life, and the beauty of the setting all come vividly to life.” —The Scotsman “A brilliant travel writer.” —Booklist
Born in Jalandhar, British India, in 1912 to Indian-born British colonials, Lawrence Durrell was a critically hailed and beloved novelist, poet, humorist, and travel writer best known for the Alexandria Quartet novels, which were ranked by the Modern Library as among the greatest works of English literature in the twentieth century. A passionate and dedicated writer from an early age, Durrell’s prolific career also included the groundbreaking Avignon Quintet, whose first novel, Monsieur (1974), won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and whose third novel, Constance (1982), was nominated for the Booker Prize. He also penned the celebrated travel memoir Bitter Lemons of Cyprus (1957), which won the Duff Cooper Prize. Durrell corresponded with author Henry Miller for forty-five years, and Miller influenced much of his early work, including a provocative and controversial novel, The Black Book (1938). Durrell died in France in 1990.