A captivating and transporting travel novel, Scorpionfish reveals how what we leave behind may be exactly what we've been looking for all along.
After the unexpected deaths of her parents, academic Mira returns to her childhood home in Athens. On her first night back, she encounters a new neighbor, a longtime ship captain who has found himself, for the first time in years, no longer at sea. As one summer night tumbles into another, Mira and the Captain’s voices drift across the balconies of their apartments, disclosing details and stories: of careers, of families, of love.
For Mira, love has so often meant Aris, an ex-boyfriend and rising Greek politician who has recently become engaged to a movie star. There is, too, her love for her dear friend Nefeli—a well-known artist who came of age during the military dictatorship—as well as Dimitra and Fady, a couple caring for a young refugee boy. Undergirding each relationship is the love that these characters have for Athens, a beautiful but complicated city that is equal parts lushness and sharp edges.
Scorpionfish is a map of how and where we find our true selves: in the pull of the sea; the sway of late-night bar music; the risk and promise of art; and in the sparkling, electric, summertime charge of endless possibility. Award-winning author Natalie Bakopoulos braids a story of vulnerability, desire, and bittersweet truth, unraveling old ways of living and, in the end, creating something new.
In Bakopoulos's ruminative follow-up to The Green Shore, 30-something Mira returns from the U.S. to Greece after her parents' deaths to clean out the apartment she grew up in. The city she encounters is not the one of her childhood. Athens is plagued by strikes, drugs, the government debt crisis, and the junta, and refugees hoping for a better future have migrated to the city, "the safest dangerous place in the world." Like the city itself, Mira's sense of self is in flux as she lingers in her parents' apartment\n. Enter the Captain. Mira's new neighbor is an older man recently separated from his wife and children who prefers the "placeless universality of the sea" to land. Both spend the summer figuring out who they are in the wake of huge life changes as they explore the city with old friends: Fady and Dimitra, who have taken in a refugee; Aris, Mira's ex-boyfriend, a rising politician and father-to-be; and Nefeli, an older artist Mira's known since childhood, who understands, better than anyone, how the past, present, and future selves coexist. While Bakopoulos's emphasis on themes of identity is at times heavy-handed, she skillfully captures the characters' sense of feeling stuck between stations. This riff on the adage that you can never go home poses essential questions on what it means to belong.