In Ikonomou’s world, the island is a prison and the sea forms the bars. Yet he approaches the grimness and desperation of his characters’ lives with lightness and humor, in an idiomatic Greek seamlessly translated by Karen Emmerich ... [Ikonomou] registers the astonishing beauty of the Aegean landscape next to the mundane details that have regrettably come to represent Greece ... In [Ikonomou's] prose, the lyrical and the rough are always intertwined ... Together, [Ikonomou’s] books make a persuasive case for regarding Ikonomou as Greece’s most original and perceptive chronicler of his country’s fears and yearnings.
... like the surprisingly profound ramblings of a lonely barfly, these stories are tumultuous journeys from despair to hope and back to despair, masterfully rendered by Ikonomou. He has a particular talent for internal dialogue, capturing the smugness and paranoia of a mind that’s trusted no one for so long that it no longer even trusts itself. Page-length sentences of staccato clauses reminiscent of Faulkner bombard the reader but don’t disorient, balanced as they are between exhaustion and mania. Parts of this book are descents into hell, but Ikonomou’s confident voice guides the way back out. Absent are any woodenness or awkwardness, testament to the quality of the translation by Karen Emmerich ... Like someone with a lot to say and no one to talk to, Ikonomou often overstays his welcome, digressing into outright sermonizing and saying too much.
This outsider’s perspective on the island allows Ikonomou to explore the country’s internal divisions ... Ikonomou masterfully takes readers inside narrow points of view to reveal both their biases and the deeply felt motives behind those biases. The result is a highly empathetic and often darkly funny portrait of a country at war with itself ... Ikonomou writes of a Greece where the sun still rises.