Paul Stewart has lived in Nicosia for over 20 years. As Professor of Literature at the University of Nicosia, actor, poet and novelist he has been part of the cultural fabric of Cyprus in a variety of ways.
Stewart’s latest novel Of People and Things bears all the traces of that lived experience. Although the country and city are never named, Cyprus and Nicosia are more than just a little local colour: they are characters in their own right; characters that shape the atmosphere and action of the novel itself. Primarily set within the old parts of Nicosia, you can feel the sense of decay, heat and sweat of the city on every page of the book as the characters move under an unrelenting blue sky. This is not the Cyprus that most tourists get to know; rather it is the Cyprus of the everyday, of bizarre occurrences and of people drawn from different communities. As James Mackay of the European University Cyprus noted, the location of the novel is “something that is lived in”.
We see Cyprus through the eyes of the narrator – a man who is easily distracted, easily confused and who seems to have given up on any desires, except the desire to be left alone. Of course, the world comes knocking on his door and he quickly find himself mixed up in a world of affairs, private detectives, secret desires and dubious motivations. The book is a darkly funny mix of detective story, sex farce, and absurdist comedy as Paul, the main character, tries to achieve his ‘mission’ in the company of a strange, even grotesque set of people who have all found themselves in contemporary Nicosia.
As Paul, the narrator, puts it: “The streets of this city had always been a blur to me, a haze I slipped through”. Of People and Things guides you through that haze and gives the reader a unique, side-ways glance at modern Cyprus.
The book is available in paperback and electronic editions.
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Of People and Things – Armida Books
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