I love Greece, and reading books set in Greece always makes me happy. Dreaming about the amazing weather, delicious food, blue waters, and marvellous views is always a joy, isn’t it?
In this list of books set in Greece, I chose various books; there classics and there are modern, some are literary and some are not but they are all interesting books set in Greece.
Books Set in Greece
The Magus – John Fowles
On a remote Greek Island, Nicholas Urfe finds himself embroiled in the deceptions of a master trickster. As reality and illusion intertwine, Urfe is caught up in the darkest of psychological games. John Fowles expertly unfolds a tale that is lush with over-powering imagery in a spellbinding exploration of human complexities. By turns disturbing, thrilling and seductive, The Magus is a feast for the mind and the senses among books set in Greece.
Zorba the Greek – Nikos Kazantzakis
A modern classic among books set in Greece. This moving fable sees a young Greek writer set out to Crete to claim a small inheritance. But when he arrives, he meets Alexis Zorba, a middle-aged Greek man with a zest for life. Zorba has had a family and many lovers, has fought in the Balkan wars, has lived and loved – he is a simple but deep man who lives every moment fully and without shame. As their friendship develops, he is gradually won over, transformed and inspired along with the reader.
Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis’ most popular and enduring novel, has its origins in the author’s own experiences in the Peleponnesus in the 1920s. His swashbuckling hero has legions of fans across the world and his adventures are as exhilarating now as they were on first publication in the 1950s. A must-read among books set in Greece.
The Two Faces of January – Patricia Highsmith
Two men meet in the picturesque backstreets of Athens. Chester MacFarlane is a conman with multiple false identities, near the end of his rope and on the run with his young wife Colette. Rydal Keener is a young drifter looking for adventure: he finds it in one evening as the law catches up to Chester and Colette, and their fates become fatally entwined.
Patricia Highsmith draws us deep into a cross-European game of cat and mouse in this masterpiece of suspense from the author of The Talented Mr Ripley. An enjoyable read among books set in Greece.
Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels
Jakob Beer is seven years old when he is rescued from the muddy ruins of a buried village in Nazi-occupied Poland. Of his family, he is the only one who has survived. Under the guidance of the Greek geologist Athos, Jakob must steel himself to excavate the horrors of his own history. A novel of astounding beauty and wisdom, Fugitive Pieces is a profound meditation on the resilience of the human spirit and love’s ability to resurrect even the most damaged of hearts. One of the best books among books set in Greece.
The Names – Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo’s seventh novel is an exotic thriller. Set mostly in Greece, it concerns a mysterious ‘language cult’ seemingly behind a number of unexplained murders. Obsessed by news of this ritualistic violence, an American risk analyst is drawn to search for an explanation. We follow his progress on an obsessive journey that begins to take over his life and the lives of those closest to him.
In addition to offering a series of precise character studies, The Names explores the intersection of language and culture, the perception of America from both inside and outside its borders, and the impact that narration has on the facts of a story. Meditative and probing, DeLillo wonders: how does one cope with the fact that the act of articulation is simultaneously capable of defining and circumscriptively restricting access to the self? An interesting one among books set in Greece.
Afternoons in Ithaka – Spiri Tsintziras
A charming memoir of self-discovery, family, connection and the power of a tomato. ‘I remember crusty just-baked bread, rubbed with juicy tomato flesh, swimming in a puddle of thick green olive oil. I am seven years old. I sit on a stool in my grandmother’s house. It is the height of summer in a seaside village in the south of Greece. We little Aussies devour ‘tomato sandwiches’ as the family chats and laughs and swats flies …’
From the first heady taste of tomatoes on home-baked bread in her mother’s village in Petalidi, to sitting at a taverna some 30 years later in Ithaka with her young family, Spiri Tsintziras goes on a culinary, creative and spiritual journey that propels her back and forth between Europe and Australia. These evocative, funny and poignant stories explore how food and culture, language and music, and people and their stories help to create a sense of meaning and identity. A good one among books set in Greece.
The Messenger of Athens – Anne Zouroudi
When the battered body of a young woman is discovered on a remote Greek island, the local police are quick to dismiss her death as an accident. Then a well-dressed stranger arrives – uninvited – from Athens, announcing his intention to investigate further. His methods are unorthodox, and he brings his own mystery into the web of dark secrets and lies. Who has sent him? On whose authority is he acting? And how does he know of dramas played out decades ago?
The Messenger of Athens is the first in Anne Zouroudi’s unique series of award-winning mysteries, where mythology meets murder in the beautiful and timeless landscapes of almost-contemporary Greece, and investigator Hermes Diaktoros’s origins are as baffling as the mysteries he solves.
Fans of Andrea Camilleri, Donna Leon, Barbara Nadel and Neil Gaiman’s American Gods will love the mysterious, enigmatic Greek detective Hermes Diaktoros, ‘half Poirot, half deus-ex-machina’ (Guardian).
Anne Zouroudi is a past winner of the Coventry Book Award and has been shortlisted for the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards and the Desmond Elliott Prize. A mystery among books set in Greece.
Outline – Rachel Cusk
The first in Rachel Cusk’s critically-acclaimed trilogy, shortlisted for the Folio Prize and the Goldsmith Prize and longlisted for the IMPAC Prize among books set in Greece.
Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and lucid, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing over an oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her student in storytelling exercises. She meets other writers for dinner. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her seatmate from the place. The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves, their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face great a great loss. A powerful one among books set in Greece.
Three Summers – Margarita Liberaki
Three Summers is a warm and tender tale of three sisters growing up in the countryside near Athens before the Second World War. Living in a ramshackle old house with their divorced mother are flirtatious, hot-headed Maria, beautiful but distant Infanta, and dreamy and rebellious Katerina, through whose eyes the story is mostly observed. Over three summers, the girls share and keep secrets, fall in and out of love, try to understand the strange ways of adults and decide what kind of adults they hope to become. An enjoyable one among books set in Greece.
The King Must Die – Mary Renault
Theseus is the grandson of the King of Troizen, but his paternity is shrouded in mystery – can he really be the son of the god Poseidon? When he discovers his father’s sword beneath a rock, his mother must reveal his true identity: Theseus is the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, and is his only heir. So begins Theseus’s perilous journey to his father’s palace to claim his birthright, escaping bandits and ritual king sacrifice in Eleusis, to slaying the Minotaur in Crete. Renault reimagines the Theseus myth, creating an original, exciting story among books set in Greece.
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Are there any books set in Greece you’d like to add to this list? Would you please share in the comments section below?