Through his new novel Life in Ashes – Days and Nights of Trebizond Merkourios Aytzis is taking us to Pontus during the most critical period of its history, which eventually led to the genocide and the uprooting of the Greeks.
Through real stories and the use of sources and bibliography listed at the end of the book, an entire era comes to life in a unique way, following the passions of a family of Greeks that go hand in hand with the forces of Trebizond where the story takes place.
Merkourios Aytzis is known to this day for his many essential books addressed to children and young people.
In an older interview, he had told me:
“There are no forbidden or taboo subjects. Everything can be touched on with children. What is different is the way we address those subjects.”
“Were there moments when you couldn’t go on, when the emotions overwhelmed you?”
“There were many times when I exceeded my limits, when the recounting of tragic events made me hurt and break down […]. It was then that I described with vividness the scenes with Nikiforos, the future husband of Chrissavgi, who, in his attempt to return home after the battle of Gallipoli to reunite with his beloved, walked hundreds of kilometres from Magnesia to Trebizond, crossing mountains and valleys and witnessed events so cruel that they are difficult to narrate. But no matter. Through the sorrow and pain came knowledge and redemption […].”
Such books as Merkourios Aytzis’ should be in school libraries and should become the basis for lessons in school. Literature can give children the greatest motivation to discover the history of our country, to love it and to understand the way in which it is tied to their own lives.