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.
... richly told ... Bakopoulos’ prose is descriptive, full of images and details, and yet some sentences are so clear and axiomatic that the reader may need to pause and think, recognizing truths they’ve always known. In a certain way, reading Scorpionfish is a rereading, a remarkable recognition of how language can work, how grief and love and loss can be so particular, so meaningful, so universal—and how words can make those resonances propulsive and haunting.
... offers the 'soul-swaddling feeling of sharing intensely personal experiences with others—which can be its own strange type of sweetness ... The tone of the book, too, is emptied, the prose scraped clean of adornment. Mira in no way resembles the spiny, venomous scorpionfish of the title; her voice lies flat, as if attempting to avoid detection .... The novel is thick with the memory of missing people, which creates a kind of ghost landscape alongside the physical terrain of the city ... the novel still allows for close, quiet moments of happiness and human connection.
... ruminative ... 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.