"In 1922, the great Mediterranean seaport of Smyrna is ablaze: the Greeks are forced from Asia Minor in defeat. Among the refugees is Theo Tekaros, whose long journey ends in Australia. 'I was a lost soul; you'd better believe it. . .' He meets Trixie at a wartime dance, and falls in love.
"Sixty years later, their son Harry, a radio journalist deserted by his wife, heads back to Greece and Turkey in search of his father's beginnings, the past. A perpetual beginner, he is captivated by two women: an elderly bookseller in Constantinople and a Greek theatre actress. Like a latter-day Ulysses blown miles off course, Harry falls in love too. But the fabric of truth is delicate, he discovers, and mysteries abound on this planet of possibilities."
About the Author:
Tony Maniaty was born in Brisbane, Australia in,1949, the son of a Greek father and an Australian mother. Most of his early life was spent in and around the family's corner stores.
He has worked for more than twenty years in radio and television journalism - for ABC News, Radio Australia, SBS Australia, Visnews, the BBC World Service and Monitoradio in the USA. His coverage of the political turmoil and fighting in Timor in 1975 inspired his first novel, The Children Must Dance (Penguin, 1984).
Several awards followed, including the NSW Premier's Fellowship and the Marten Bequest; and in 1985 he won the National Short Story Award with a story outlining the search for his father's past. His travels in Turkey and Greece also formed the basis for Smyrna.
He is currently writing a third novel, set in the 1960s in Brazil.
It's true, he thought. I always imagined that I'd think more often of my parents when they were dead, but lately I've hardly thought of them at all.
Other matters took a lot of time, he realised, and kept shuffling. They always did photograph well. Here's one of them dressed up - in Brisbane in the forties, during the war. They were avid swing dancers in those days, had actually met at the City Hall dance: the place crawling with Americans and the odd Greek or two. Behind them was the night sea, which turned out later to be a painted backdrop. Only it must have been 1948, he realised, after the war because Trixie was three months pregnant. 'You're in the photograph,' she liked to say. And in this photo too, his father Theo - broad face smiling over a pin-striped, double-breasted suit - appears to have finally discovered his mark, after all the turmoil.
From the Penguin paperback edition, 1989.
This novel was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 1990.
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Last modified: December 10, 2004.