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Children of Byzantium

Children of Byzantium is not mere autobiography, but instead is a work of extended fiction about growing up Greek in Winnipeg. Through a series of interconnected stories, Katherine Alexander follows the life of teenage Eleni, innocent and hopeful in her village in Greece, through poverty and hardship in Canada, where she must endure not only the isolation of the newcomer, but also the terrible silence of one to whom knowledge of the new language and culture is denied. Eleni is representative of a generation of immigrant women who were, in effect, ghettoized. Their ethnicity was preserved and isolated without the ameliorating effects of growth and sharing in a land of strong multicultural roots and traditions. Alexander takes these materials, which might have constituted only another book about the immigrant experience, and fashions a deeply moving and subtle tale of one woman’s odyssey towards articulation and light.

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