My Cyprus by Joachim Sartorius Tr. Stephen Brown

4.5 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

The island of Cyprus holds a strategic position in the Mediterranean and it has been invaded by various powers from the Phoenicians right up to the Turkish who invaded in 1974, they split the island in two and their portion is only recognised by Turkey. There is a lot of history on this tiny island.

When Joachim Sartorius arrived there in 1984, s decade after the invasion, he was there in an official capacity as the German Ambassador to the island. This meant that he could do something that most of the residents couldn’t do, which was to freely travel from the north to the south. What he did on these journeys over three summers was to make a record of what life was like in each partitioned part of the island.

This book is part of that record, and he took the time to return years after to fill in some of the gaps that he had in his notes. I really liked this book. Sartorius writes with an obvious affection for the island and the people who live there. His prose (or at least the translated version) is quite beautiful, I liked the way that he wove the troubled history of the island into the encounters that he had, without looking to judge why it had happened or who was to blame. I felt that he has completely captured the atmosphere of the islands, from the old rural side of the islands away from the tourist bustle, or watching donkeys trying to grab the little shade that they can find under a mulberry tree.

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2 Comments

  1. Liz Dexter

    This does sound interesting, I’ve read narratives from both sides but not from someone who could cross between them like that.

    • Paul

      I think that having some independence does help where there is a conflict.

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