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.
Bakapoulos’ prose has a detached clarity that makes room for emotion and feeling. Like a surgeon performing on their own heart, she is beautifully precise yet unafraid to reveal all in her storytelling ... Bakopoulos’ writing manages to be both intimate and amplified, she excels at creating inner worlds whilst simultaneously examining the wider society they inhabit. By granting us access to Mira and the Captain, Bakopoulos reveals broader truths about the immigrant experience, political power, art, history, childhood, the city and the sea. The elegant, direct prose style is so stripped of artifice the reader becomes fixed in the storytelling — there is simply no option to turn away. Nor is there any need to get distracted by contrived plot lines or decorative excess. Despite being rich in detail, Scorpionfish is also bare and essential in its message. Like all good books, it doesn’t seek answers but knows how to ask all the right questions.
... 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.