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Reviewed by Lesley Jones for Readers' Favorite
A Greek Cat by Moshe Karasso follows the story of a Jewish man growing up in the idyllic Greek islands to adulthood and old age. Although generations before him had acquired much wealth, the generations that followed became complacent and lazy, leaving the family poverty-stricken and embittered. The narrator relays his experience growing up as a Jew and the backlash he faced for not being circumcised correctly. His childhood would take a dramatic turn for the worse when he loses both parents and is left in the care of his uncles. As World War II begins and Greece is invaded by Germany, he manages to escape capture and travel to Crete where he joins the British Army. When his regiment is captured, he uses his survival instincts and evades the concentration camps. He is put to work on a farm for the enemies he was fighting against. However, as the war ends and he returns home, he is accused of being a traitor to the Greek people and Judaism. As his homeland no longer welcomes him, he decides to leave, not knowing he is about to embark on a series of events that will change his life forever.
A Greek Cat by Moshe Karasso is an exceptionally well-written tale of days gone by and will take you back to the innocence of your own childhood. I absolutely loved the dialogue throughout as it highlighted the characters' personalities perfectly. The relationship dynamics between the narrator and his sweetheart Katina were superb and there were some really heartbreaking moments. I also thought his friendship with Fatty was extraordinary; a delightful mixture of contempt and love. It was interesting to learn about World War II from the perspective of those invaded and captured, and these sections of the novel were written with fantastic, gritty realism. There are some great moments of tension as well as hilarious situations. I especially loved the dry sense of humor of the narrator and his description of his parents' marriage: "their relationship was like the love a postman might feel towards his letters." The narrator made the perfect storyteller, and his curious mind and deep thinking about the people he encountered made the story even more compelling. This is a wonderful novel and a great examination of how the cruelty and kindness of humanity are different sides of the same coin.