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Homero Aridjis’s dramatic storytelling of the final days of Smyrna floods our senses as only a master poet can do.


Smyrna, September 13–22,1922. The Turkish army under Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and its irregulars, known as chettes, attack Greeks and Armenians in this ancient “City of Tolerance.” They randomly murder the men, rape, and torture the women and young girls, set buildings aflame, and plunder at will. Nicias Aridjis, after years of fighting in the Greco-Turkish War, has come to Smyrna to rescue Eurydice, the woman he left behind and return with her to Greece. Nicias, our eyewitness, wanders through crowds of Greeks and Armenians who are desperate to escape genocide. Then a catastrophic fire wipes off the map the Greek and Armenian quarters of Smyrna. Victims number in the tens of thousands; as many as 100,000 refugees manage to flee.


This surrealistic narrative draws on the memoirs of the author’s father, and on historical studies. Lorna Scott Fox’s remarkable translation preserves the poetic prose of author

Homero Aridjis, whom Kenneth Rexroth described as a “visionary poet of lyrical bliss.” Aridjis immortalizes the last apocalyptic days of 3,000-year-old Smyrna, soon to be replaced by Izmir.


Over nine days in September 1922, the Turkish army and its sadistic irregulars brutalized and murdered the Greeks and Armenians of Smyrna and set fire to their municipal quarters. “So many hacked bodies …. the whole of Smyrna is an abattoir,” says Nicias Aridjis to himself as he wanders through the city in search of his lost love. Through his eyes, we witness the Asia Minor Catastrophe, about which much has been written. Yet no writer has captured the unfolding tragedy so vividly—and so poetically—as Homero Aridjis, whose narrative is based on the memoirs of his father. The real Nicias Aridjis was there—and managed to escape.




“A deep committed act of witnessing by a writer of extraordinary vision. This unique chronicle harnesses the power of ancient myth with haunting emotions of biblical imagery. A century ago, Smyrna was the very site of hell on earth, and Homero Aridjis tells the story of his father’s journey through a nightmarish labyrinth of carnage and despair. The reader emerges with feelings of outrage and deep gratitude for this unforgettable account.”—Atom Egoyan, award-winning Armenian-Canadian film and stage director, screenwriter and producer of such breakthrough films as Exotica (1994), The Sweet Hereafter (1997) Chloe (2009) Guest of Honor (2019)


"Passionate, brave, and deeply felt, Homero Aridjis's novel is a powerful read. Told through the eyes of his father, this is the compelling narrative of a young person confronting History with a capital 'H' -- the intimate account of a human catastrophe whose devastating repercussions are still being felt in the Aegean area today, a century later."—Ersi Sotiropoulos, Greek writer and author of numerous translated award-winning books of fiction and poetry including Zigzag through the Bitter Orange Trees (2013 winner of the Greek State Prize for Literature and the Book Critics’ Award) and What’s Left of the Night (2018 and winner of the 2019 National Translation Award).


About the Author: 


Homero Aridjis has published fifty-one books: poetry, novels, short stories, plays, essays, and children’s stories. Examples include The Child Poet; Persephone, 1492: The Life and Times of Juan Cabezón of Castile; Eyes to See OtherwiseA Time of Angels; Solar Poems; Maria the Monarch; and News of the Earth. Aridjis is Mexico’s greatest living writer, environmentalist and former Mexican Ambassador to Switzerland, The Netherlands UNESCO, and long-time President of International PEN.He has received important literary prizes, including the Xavier Villaurrutia (Mexico), the Diana-Novedades International Fiction Prize (Mexico), the Roger Caillois, for the ensemble of his work (France), the Grinzane-Cavour (Italy) for 1492 The Life and Times of Juan Cabezón of Castile, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, The Smederevo Golden Key for Poetry (Serbia), the Premio Letterario Camaiore Internazionale (Italy), the Violani Landi University of Bologna Poetry Prize (Italy), the Premio Letterario Internazionale L’Aquila Laudomia Bonanni (Italy), the Erendira State Prize for the Arts (Mexico) and two Guggenheim Fellowships.


About the Translator: 


Lorna Scott Fox is a journalist, editor, and translator whose translations from Spanish and French include Teresa, My Love by Julia Kristeva, Marriage as a Fine Art by Julia Kristeva and Philippe Sollers, Petite Fleur by Iosi Havilio, and Narcoland by Anabel Hernández.


Co-Published with Dryad Press 


Paper with Flaps, 168 pages, 27 Color & B&W Photographs  


Smyrna in Flames

SKU: 9781942134756
  • Homer Aridjis

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