Published: November 2007
Readers who selected this book also read The Cleaver and Other Stories and Black Macedonian.
Thanasis Skroumbelos—familiar to Greek readers from his earlier works, The Snakes at Kolonos, My Red Friends, and Bella Ciao
—completes a quartet of political novels with Blue Suede Shoes
. Set against the backdrop of the upheavals that wracked the Left in Greece, all four novels expose the passions and class struggles of an oppressed society tormented by the final throes of the Civil War that lingered for almost a half century after its end.
In Blue Suede Shoes –the title, a reference to the Elvis Presley song, is a leitmotif that sends unexpected ripples through the story– Skroumbelos takes on the black tactics of the para-state from November 1964, anniversary of the destruction of the Gorgopotamos viaduct by resistance fighters in 1942, under a plan code-named “Red Fleece”.
Using the event as peg, Skroumbelos, once again, hangs on it an entire tableau of Greece in the Sixties woven from the threads of daily life as it evolved around the Hawaii nightclub, a hangout for transvestites in a lowly district of Athens. The club is also the meeting place of former members of X, a pro-Nazi organization, and the hub of conspiracies hatched by the darkest reaches of the para-state. Like the rest of Greece, the neighborhood is bitterly divided between the left and fascists in the state’s innermost reaches.
Blue Suede Shoes is a political novel in the broadest sense, focusing on the politics that emerge from the clash between rigid, entrenched mentalities and those young forces in society struggling to create a brave new world.
Blue Suede Shoes is populated by distinctive characters that are depicted with a unique but unyielding realism that convincingly records the complexities of Greek society during the period. Not a single character dwells outside the collective norms, all ultimately victimizing others but also becoming victims at the hands of an omnipotent barbarous system. There’s the charming protagonist, Trilias or Gazouris or Charmer or Horse; Christos, the powerful boss of the Hawaii nightclub; the mysterious and strong-willed Boy; Malatsias, Aristea, Nena, and a host of secondary characters. Skroumbelos’s tightly woven plot leaves readers breathless as he unravels minor, little-known incidents of the period and exposes their underground links to well-known political events.
No other author has painted the story of Greece in the Sixties as vividly or as courageously. Blue Suede Shoes is a passionate story about the trials of the Left and post-Civil War Greece. It’s a compelling tale that weaves together historical events with erotic drama.
First published November 10, 2007
Praise about Blue Suede Shoes:
Skroumbelos’s novel is a studied look at society’s fringes in the 1960s. […] This comes through without the author resorting to dogmatism or ideological propaganda but as a vibrant and totally tangible through its extreme contradictions and clashes world.
Sunday Eleftherotypia, Vangelis Hatzivasileiou
Three worlds coexist in the novel: the para-state and American dominance; the Left; Gazouris’s family under the emblematic mother Aristea and his younger sister Nena. […] Skroumbelos masterfully handles these three worlds, weaving them together to achieve cinematic speeds without losing a sense of economy.
One of the most exciting erotic –yet also political– novels in recent years. […] [Skroumbelos] soberly assesses the period he describes, offering lessons in literature and history at a time when the revisionism gripping many historians attempts to “exonerate” those who led Greece to tyranny. The child of a turbulent yet fascinating era, Skroumbelos relates in Blue Suede Shoes a simple tale that could be the epic of a generation.
Eleftherotypia, “Bibliothiki”, Elena Houzouri
Diavazo Literary Review, Dimitris Triantafyllides
With his new autobiographical book, Blue Suede Shoes: A Rock Story from the Troubled Days of ’64, he plunges into the most wicked bar of the times, ‘Hawaii’, and describes the world of the legendary transvestites performing there, the taboos of a dazed Greece, his role, and Tennessee Williams’s passage through the bar. And all this from the perspective of Left humanism.
Lifo, M. Hulot
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