CULTURE

Pursuing a dream in the US and Greece

They say that you should write about what you know, and that is what Theodore Pitsios has done with his debut novel «The Bellmaker’s House,» out recently from Cosmos Publishing. The proceeds from the sales of this book will be donated to the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA) to fund a Hellenic Studies Chair at the University of South Alabama. Theodore Pitsios was born in the village of Tsagarada, Greece, before sailing across the world as an engineer in the merchant marine business and settling in the United States. Escaping destiny The author seems to have drawn on his own experiences for this book which is informed by the journey taken by his main character Nikos Pilios. The book begins with Nikos as a young boy inspired by the life that his favourite teacher, a well-educated and world-traveled man, has led. He dreams that one day he will escape the destiny that his parents seem to have in store for him, which is to take over his father’s farm. Deciding to take fate into his own hands, Nikos becomes an engineer in the shipping industry, traveling wherever the ships take him. This is the first of many disappointments that his parents must deal with, which include Nikos’s marriage to an American woman, living abroad and never quite being the big success that they had imagined. After a trip back to his village and family in Taxiarches, Greece, Nikos realizes his parents’ disappointment and sets about designing a plan to remedy the situation. The plan begins with the purchase of his old teacher’s magnificent house in the middle of the village and its renovation into something extraordinary. On his return to the US he goes into business for himself to set the wheels in motion for obtaining the capital for the renovation. From the beginning we see Nikos’s struggle to obtain his goal, with each day bringing new challenges and hope. The book tackles many interesting issues that are faced daily by people, cultural differences, difficulties of self-employment, trying to obtain the approval of your parents and the harsh world of the shipping industry. Theodore Pitsios approaches each of these with humor and descriptive passages that place you in the moment. At emotionally loaded moments, Pitsios’s selective use of Greek words such as «xenichtia» (living in a foreign land) and «prokopi» (success) help you relate to the struggles and character of his protagonist, making you hope that Nikos will achieve his prokopi.