AMERICA, AMERICA by Elia Eazan

AMERICA, AMERICA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Mesmerizing as over, Elia Kazan in his new role as novelist creates an indelible portrait in motion of a boy forged by the will to emigrate from tyranny under the Turks to America. Unsparing of emotion, spare of style, Kazan sets the stage and brings his striking characters together upon it in a number of compelling encounters. Propelled into urgency by the death of an Armenian friend at the boots of the Turks, the Greek boy Stavros takes his first step through the trust of the family -- he is to carry their wealth to ""Our Cousin"" the rug-merchant in Constantinople and bring his family, one by one, out of bondage. En route, he is ""befriended"" by a sadistic thief whose savagery ultimately leads to Stavros' killing before he is killed -- one of the unique and memorable characterizations in which this book is rich. In Constantinople, without resources, Stavros becomes a hamal, a loader of ships, scraping near starvation to save for his passage. His slender savings stolen by the whore-daughter of his friend Garabet who later saves his life, he realizes he must go for big money in the form of a dowry. The family found, the girl espoused, Stavros cannot evade her warm anxiety over his strangeness -- and following a family scene so sweet that even he murmurs ""It's all a man should want"" he admits his over-ruling dream -- America, America. A liaison with a middle-aged merchant's wife gets him across the ocean, and the sacrifice of a dying tubercular friend gives him the requisite job for entry. As a shoeshine boy who gets his tips, Stavros stands as the hope of his family in the shadow of oppression at home. A masterful performance with theatrical values fully realized.

Pub Date: Nov. 12th, 1962
Publisher: Stein & Day-Lippincott