Apartment in Athens
Apartment in Athens
New York Review of Books, Paperback, 9781590170816, 268pp.
Publication Date: April 30, 2004
Like Wescott's extraordinary novella "The Pilgrim Hawk" (which Susan Sontag described in "The New Yorker" as belonging "among the treasures of 20th-century American literature"), "Apartment in Athens" concerns an unusual triangular relationship. In this story about a Greek couple in Nazi-occupied Athens who must share their living quarters with a German officer, Wescott stages an intense and unsettling drama of accommodation and rejection, resistance and compulsion--an account of political oppression and spiritual struggle that is also a parable about the costs of closeted identity.
David Leavitt's first collection of stories, Family Dancing, was published when he was just twenty-three and was a finalist for both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN/Faulkner Prize. The Lost Language of Cranes was made into a BBC film, and While England Sleeps was short-listed for the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize. With Mark Mitchell, he coedited The Penguin Book of Short Stories, Pages Passed from Hand to Hand, and cowrote Italian Pleasures. Leavitt is a recipient of fellowships from both the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He divides his time between Italy and Florida.
A fine study in humiliation and nobility, and their culmination in tragedy and desperate resolve…its moderateness, lack of exaggeration, and serenity are admirable as the Greek ideal they reflect and honor. Everywhere is the dignity of a style in which there is nothing wasteful and nothing wanting.
— Eudora Welty
I have not read any other book—either of fiction or direct documentation—which has given me the feeling of starving and stifling, of falling back on interior positions, constructing interior defenses, reorganizing and redirecting, behind a mask of submission, the whole structure and aim of one’s life, as Apartment in Athens does.
— Edmund Wilson