Pascali’s Island by Barry Unsworth


Word PressI’m not really keen on Barry Unsworth’s style of writing (especially as regards this book, which had no chapters), but I decided to read this because it’s so hard to find historican fiction set in Greece, unless you want ancient Greece. However, it turned out that this was actually set in a mainly Greek island still occupied by the Ottoman Empire, in July 1908. The date is very significant because it was the time of the Young Turk uprising, and the book never actually used the term “Young Turk”, so if you hadn’t recognised the date then you might have been rather confused. Pascali is a half-Greek, half-British oddbod working as a spy for the Ottomans, and the book is written as his report to the Sultan on the latest events on this island … involving an artist whom he’s secretly in love with, a British man who wants to get a bronze statue out of the earth, a German who wants the local bauxite deposits for military purposes, and a suspicious American. Most people end up dead. Like a lot of things nominated for Booker Prizes, it’s one of those books which is probably really good if you like that sort of thing, but isn’t really for me!

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