Farewell to Salonica

Cover Art for 9781905791224, Farewell to Salonica by Leon Sciaky
ISBN: 9781905791224
Publisher: The Armchair Traveller at the Bookhaus
Published: 30 September, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Links Australian Libraries (Trove)
3 other editions of this product
Saving: Saving: $35.53 or 55%

Leon Sciaky whose family were prosperous Jewish grain merchants, descendents of the Sephardic Jewish exodus from Spain in 1492, grew up in the vibrant city of Salonica (now Thessaloniki) in Macedonia in a remarkably polyglot world where Turkish, Arabic, Greek, Bulgarian, French, Spanish and Hebrew were all spoken regularly in the city’s busy streets and quays. In the early part of the book Sciaky’s recollections are achingly nostalgic and lyrical and describe an intimate and affectionate family existence where every day the young Sciaky would eat with his parents and his adored grandfather Nono on the oriental divan, exchanging stories and jokes. But in retrospect, the city was doomed to destruction and as early as 1902 when Leon Sciaky experienced an earthquake, he remarked: ‘One’s very conception of solidity, one’s feeling of security was suddenly destroyed’. Soon after, the young Sciaky witnessed the earliest examples of modern terrorism and a downward spiral of violent attacks. His account of the end of a world is powerful and intense; when, as a young boy, he saw the look of terror in the face of a refugee peasant, he likened it to ‘the animal dread of cattle in the slaughterhouse’. Farewell to Salonica was first published in America in 1946. It is a beautiful and touching memoir, which also offers a unique political and historical insight into the complex history of the breakdown of the Turkish Empire. The Sciakys left for America in 1915 and like them many non-Greeks left Salonica following the Balkan Wars and World War I. All but 1,600 of the city’s 50,000 Jewish inhabitants perished in Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

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