Is Aino, the Greek goddess of secrets, a contemporary fabrication?
An archaeology student in Athens is seen on TV by a five-person “sect” devoted to the goddess. The director, actress, photographer, goldsmith and antique collector pay the student (the unnamed narrator) to live at the Aino Hotel, where they can observe and interrogate him about his past. Meanwhile, he studies them and pries into their secrets, which include associating with a junta sympathizer and supporting the drug-addicted sister of an earlier subject who became their victim. Predictably, there is a secret chamber in the hotel. As in his first novel, Four Walls (2006), Hatziyannidis fixates on the effects of enforced isolation. But here, the initial set-up and subsequent plotting are so contrived that the book and its Aino codex (yes, there is a codex, as well as writing on the underside of a drawer) can be read only allegorically. Just how remains a secret, veiled by the author’s (or translator’s) clichés, the narrator’s digressions and, possibly, by a cultural context alien to the non-Greek reader.
A short novel that feels too long.