A Greek family saga that highlights the power of love!
Their stories are in conversation and present lessons on female liberation, sexuality, and generational differences (“It’s them who didn’t keep up with their promises, letting their dreams fall short. How long will we have to pay for their mistakes?”). Sunday is confident, spunky, and sometimes prickly (“‘Cause I am not the nurse type and I don’t want to be the teacher type,’ I say feeling glad that I called him antique ‘cause his ideas are coming from a thousand years ago.”). Her narration spools out in long, stream-of-consciousness threads: “Of course that’s my personal view of the matter ‘cause mama still believes that money doesn’t buy happiness only rents a portion of it and those who depend on rent end up homeless.”
This story is not for the faint of heart: it includes cruelty, unpleasant sex, rape, abuse, casual racism, a suicide attempt, and many images of feces and food as excrement. Denis offsets these intense elements with soft simile (“Now her mood is a bit clearer, semi-transparent, like a steamed mirror”) and playful onomatopoeia, making for an interesting juxtaposition. Sunday is a likeable and compelling character surrounded by chaos. This novel will grab readers and take them for a wild ride.
Takeaway: Denis’s raunchy novel of love, sex, and generational conflict, with its spunky teen protagonist, will grab readers and take them for a wild ride.
Great for fans of: Louise Rennison’s Angus, Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging, Fran Ross’s Oreo.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: B
New York author Kiki Denis is of Greek heritage, earned her degrees from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts and Exeter University in the UK On her website she states she ‘writes fiction, non-fiction, profiles, poetry and letters to Departed & Aliens who care to listen.’ Her works have garnered awards, including 2005 Gival Press Novel Award for this, her debut novel - THE LAST DAY OF PARADISE.
Having read Kiki’s second novel – LIFE IS BIG – before this initial volume makes this story even more enjoyable. On Kiki’s website she summarizes the novel: ‘This is a family saga that highlights the magic of language and the cycle of generations. Sunday at 15 abruptly discovers that her “baba” may not be her biological father. She narrates the events that led to her birth in a small Greek town and takes the reader back in time to understand her present situation. The story unfolds as Sunday zips blithely from one end of the timeline to the other – from the bawdiness of ancient times to the raw sexual nonchalance of today’s youth – although she sometimes gets ahead of her storytelling.’
Inviting us into the story in the ‘Current Era,’ Kiki immediately sets the tone of her raucous and rollicking prose: “My name is Sunday. I am a person, not a day. Several months ago, I would have said I was an extra cool person with lost of self-confidence, but then was then and that’s very far from now. Anyway, do you know that I have a friend who – just by looking at you – is able of telling you how many kilos of self-confidence or ambition you possess? Yes!! It’s true. Such a person exists. His name is Antonis and I haven’t jumped him or going to ‘cause real friends aren’t for jumping, as people who possess more than ten kilos of common sense know. How many kilos of common sense you’ve got?... ‘
With that degree of immediacy and humor laced with insight, Kiki spins a tale of a Greek family in a small town that shares insights into the culture, the interrelationships that make a family bloom, and the good and the bad aspects of a coming of age in a challenging, but cherished, memory bank ‘discovery story’. The language is raw, expletives abound, but that seems to embellish to the overall flavor of the story.
Not only does Kiki Denis write splendidly: she also makes us think…A brilliant little novel! Grady Harp, August 20th 2020
- Kiki Denis' debut novel, "The Last Day of
Paradise," is a family saga that highlights the magic of language and the cycle of generations. Sunday, 15, abruptly discovers that her "baba" may not be her
biological father. She narrates the events that led to her birth in a small
Greek town and takes the reader back in time to understand her present
situation. The story unfolds as Sunday zips blithely from one end of the timeline to
the other - from the bawdiness of ancient times to the raw sexual nonchalance
of today's youth - although she sometimes gets ahead of her storytelling.
Sections are helpfully labelled "current era" and "ancient era" to keep the reader from becoming confused by the multigenerational cast.
There's Olga, the feminine feminist; Kyra Vana, her lesbian mother; and
wicked Yiayia, who has only one breast. And there's Bo, Sunday's friend in the U.S.,
who tells them all about the wonders of America, such as 24-hour help lines for domestic violence. "It's a public service. Amazing stuff, eh?" he says. "It sounds like the first part of a science fiction sequel."
Reviewed by SHAZNA NESSA (The Associated Press)