Thursday, 10 January 2013

Συγχώρεση (Forgiveness) by S. Triantafyllou

Again a novel in a non-English language to prove that there is plenty of good material outside the English-speaking world!  I received this as a birthday present from my sister and I read it in one evening.  Pity there is no translation in the market because it deals with a subject that is extremely delicate with a manner that is equally so...

A mother discovers her only child, a teenage daughter, is murdered.  Already this is enough to cause a lot of emotions.  Yet, the author describes the process of the mother rejecting this at first, her memories of the various phases with the child, the clash and ultimate break-up of the family to the final acceptance of the fact in such a dense, yet calm manner that I (childless) felt fully in character.  This situation is so difficult to describe without resorting to over-the-top hysterics and screams, that I appreciated this dead calm I'm sure goes on in the midst of a truly horrible situation.  I was immersed in a world I don't know, yet am pretty sure would apply to me too.  This was also the place where a first shock was presented:  while the mother suffers in silence, the father decides that the child is no longer reality, so the mother is no longer reality, so he wants to live in reality - he walks out, gets married, has child.  This was so infuriating to read (and I know that it would apply to any person) that I spent a good amount of time trying to find a logical explanation as to why some can simply walk over their ordeals and start fresh, while others will carry their cross for the rest of their lives...

The twist in the story is the title of the book, and refers to the mother getting to know her daughter's murderer.  The story continues with the mother writing to him and insisting to know why he killed her daughter, to her visiting him in prison as he awaits execution.  She comes to forgive him and actually feel sorry for him.  When he calls (he regards her as his only friend), she accepts the charges and little by little they form a bond - to the point that, when  he's dead, she arranges his burial and receives all his personal belongings.  What struck me though, was the author's courage to raise a very delicate subject - even when a murderer is dead, a parent will not get their child back, they will not "get even" - there will just be another dead body in their lives.  The mother has to keep her thoughts to herself because everyone expects her to be vengeful - but she's not.  We are all here on Earth to do good to people - there are just so many reasons why things can go wrong...

A very disturbing story, but really well worth reading.


  1. Yes, this does sound like an interesting read.

    1. It was absorbing from beginning to end...

  2. So you did find interesting Greek books to read! Did it tick any year in the Century Challenge?

    1. (of course not! published in 2003 and not translated in any other language...)




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