Four loosely connected stories that collectively tell a tale of frustration, desperation, and poverty on an island in contemporary Greece.
The unnamed island on which the stories are set presents a microcosm of Greek troubles. Although poverty abounds, what torments the characters even more is memory: “Becoming poor isn’t what breaks you. What breaks you is remembering that you didn’t used to be poor.” In “I’ll Swallow Your Dreams,” we are introduced to Tasos, who has stood up (at least verbally) to Xellinakis, a member of the Greek Mafia who has exerted control over much of the local economy. What Tasos wants seems relatively simple: “for us to build our own cooperative, to start a farmer’s market, to help people,” but Xellinakis’ goons warn him three times—once by tying him to the hood of his truck and running him through a car wash—before he simply disappears. In the second story, “Kill the German,” we learn of Chronis Petrakis, who is tormented by the knowledge that each night an old man is sexually abusing a young girl in a locked room. Although Chronis wants to rescue the girl, he's powerless to do this because he uses a wheelchair, and he can’t report the incident because he “doesn’t believe in reporting, or in state authorities." In the title story, Lazaros, the owner of a taverna, tries to find his son, Petros, who has run afoul of the Drakakis family, rich ship owners who “own the whole island.” “Kites in July," the final story, recounts how a couple, Artemis and Stavros, have become embittered when the dream they have to open a little taverna on the island is thwarted by economics and politicians. All four of the tales here examine themes of exploitation, class conflict, and deep discontent, suggesting that life in 21st-century Greece is far more dystopian than idyllic.
A grim set of stories in which characters feel imprisoned and current social conditions don’t allow much room for hope.