Prose of the diaspora
Sean Smith uncovers the inspiration behind the writing of Justine Frangoulis- Argyris
Last Sunday evening, writer Justine Frangoulis-Argyris launched her latest book Love in the Mist at the Greek Community Centre in Melbourne. This is the first time the author and journalist has visited Australia.
"I'm very impressed with the Hellenism here, I find it very well connected, they have an organisation and a networking that we don't experience back home in Canada or the United States," Ms Frangoulis-Argyris told Neos Kosmos.
"I find the second generation speaks very good Greek, and although it's [Australia] so far away, the flame is here … to meet people in the streets and when they hear you, they talk to you with this passion.
"Also, I'm impressed with the integration and influence the Greeks have in politics and the mainstream." Consul General of Greece Mrs Helen Lianidou, and Dr. Athanasios Spilias attended the author's literary event on Sunday evening.
The launch was for Ms Frangoulis-Argyris latest work of fiction Love in the Mist, which is based on the story of Amelia, a young teacher who is offered a job in the mountainous village of Mikrodendri. Here she discovers secrets that the town and her new love - the local architect - have been concealing. The narrative gradually reveals the reasons behind the parents' reluctance for their children to be schooled, and a darker side to her lover's nature. The story is set in the 1970s.
"My inspiration is - I always base my novels on true stories because I find that life is more amazing than most fiction. I find that life turns around and makes stories that are unbelievable."
Ms Frangoulis-Argyris is currently working on the follow-up to previous work High Heels for Six, a book which investigated the change in women's lives when they reach their forties. The author explains: "It's the women, the friends, the girlfriends that meet after being away and doing other things in life, and they speak about their experiences, the inner side of a woman's world.
"Now I'm working on part two: women in their fifties." The writer has a broad and empowering view of this stage in a woman's life, believing that the change the menopause brings is a benefit to women's self-sufficiency.
"I'm trying to explore that part of women's psyches, their liberation in their fifties. They come to realise that they are more independent." These are the thoughts of a freethinking and educated woman.
Ms Frangoulis-Argyris was born on the island of Lefkada and is a graduate of the University of Athens Law School's Political Science department. She has been published in Greece since 1983. Like all Hellenes, the current crisis is very hard for her to take, but she is positive for the future.
"The image of Greece has been damaged and I think we, the Greeks of the world, we have to speak together and give our country the image it deserves, to help our people any way we can."
She sees this as an opportunity to remind the world of what Greece has established for the benefit of human development: "Greece will never cease being the cornerstone of western civilisation, all the ideas: architecture, medicine, philosophy is based on the classic Greek civilisation.
"We have to be strong and we're going to overcome these economical problems. Now our task, for the Greeks abroad, is to feel proud for our country, as strongly as ever before," says Ms Frangoulis-Argyris, a refreshing focus for trying times.
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