Arcadia, My Arcadia a Must-Read

By Mary Papoutsy

Arcadia, My Arcadia by Nicholas D. Kokonis

Title: Arcadia, My Arcadia
Author: Nicholas D. Kokonis
Publisher: St. Basil's Publishers, PO Box 1155, Deerfield, IL 60015
Description: Soft-cover, 466pp.
ISBN: 0-9754032-0-6
Price: US$25, plus US$4 for US delivery from publisher/distributor.
Availability: , or print out a copy of mail order form provided by HCS
Reviews and Comments: For testimonies and comments, see Critics' Comments compiled by HCS.

Quite often Hellenic Communication Service receives unsolicited books and other materials from authors and publishers. And in nearly every instance, the works have been fine ones, worthy of promotion. We at HCS feel that it is important to assist in the promotion of works by and about Greeks, especially when they hold great promise for enriching our lives and enhancing our understanding of Hellenic culture and history.

Occasionally a work that reaches our desks stands out even among a field of shining stars. And Arcadia, My Arcadia by Nicholas Kokonis is just such a novel. If your gift-giving list for someone of Greek descent can include only one present, make it a purchase of Arcadia, My Arcadia. You won't regret it.

This is a wonderful historical novel about the indomitable Greek spirit of a young man from the mountains of Arcadia, the son of poor village farmers who succeeded against overwhelming odds. In the words of the author, Arcadia, My Arcadia "tells the story of one boy from the dusty poverty of his nameless village to the baffling life of the big city and beyond, as he tried to avoid the fate of his ancestors in the 1950s Arcadia." Superbly written, with an heroic central figure, the universality of the young boy's struggles—and great personal victories--will deeply touch Hellenic hearts.

Every Greek-American reader can recognize something of his own ancestors and relatives in this epic tale, since the vast majority of immigrants came from a similar background as the central figure: a poor, rural village. It makes no difference where one's ancestral village is located--nestled among the mountains of Epirus, clinging to the stony peaks of Mani, cradled in the Aegean, or even in the fabled idyllic setting of Arcadia--the struggle to survive was the same. The underlying culture, language and religion were the same. And each immigrant had the same burning desire to succeed. For those of us whose lives were made immeasurably better by the enormous sacrifices of these determined and visionary pioneers, it is difficult sometimes to recognize the magnitude and frequency of the sacrifices made by these people. But Arcadia, My Arcadia will help bring these trials into sharp focus, offering us a clearer glimpse into the remarkable natures of our own extraordinary ancestors.

Arcadia, My Arcadia is exactly what all of its reviewers have written—and much more. I especially like the quote by Photis Fournodavlos that Kokonis "took the common life of our country and its scenes and made them a blessing through the literary process and projected them on the international horizon for all the world to view and admire." Like the Prefect of Arcadia, Mr. Demetrios Konstantopoulos, I too found the book to be a "page-turner." The authorial talent of Dr. Kokonis is evident everywhere throughout this book, making it one of the very best that I have read in a long time. Buy the book. You won't be disappointed.

Nicholas D. Kokonis was born and raised in Arcadia (Greece) and knows his main character's life down to the missing hobnails on his only pair of shoes. A practicing psychologist and college professor, Dr. Kokonis divides his time between his native Arcadia and the United States.To read more about him, see his brief biography at the end of the About Us section of HCS or in the Authors section at the end of the Site Index (Archives).

(Originally posted 23 Jan 2005; reformatted 21 March 2014)

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