VIC CITY EX­PRESS

Foreword Reviews - - Foresight Translation -

Yan­nis Tsir­bas, Fred A. Reed (Trans­la­tor), Baraka Books (SEPTEM­BER) Soft­cover $16.95 (98pp), 978-1-77186-148-9

Vic City Ex­press tack­les the mi­grant cri­sis in Greece with an un­usual per­spec­tive. A trav­eler to Athens en­dures a racially charged di­a­tribe from a fel­low train pas­sen­ger who de­cries the in­flux of for­eign­ers in Vic City, the work­ing class neigh­bor­hood that he calls home. Wo­ven be­tween his words are vi­gnettes about sep­a­rate char­ac­ters, some­times writ­ten in an ex­per­i­men­tal style, that high­light the bru­tal­ity of the sit­u­a­tion.

The an­gry pas­sen­ger and his au­di­ence are never given names, ex­pand­ing the one-sided con­ver­sa­tion be­yond the scope of the two in­di­vid­u­als. Real peo­ple have these thoughts and en­coun­ters daily. The mostly silent pas­sen­ger strug­gles to en­gage with the ve­he­mence of his seat­mate. Stuck in de­nial, he seeks dis­trac­tion in in­nocu­ous per­sonal emails in an at­tempt to keep the stranger at arm’s length. Upon dis­em­bark­ing in Athens and in­ter­act­ing with sev­eral for­eign­ers, he seems to no­tice that same aver­sion bud­ding in him­self, but he con­tin­ues to avoid con­fronta­tion, even within his own head.

Although the words spo­ken on the train are of­ten mon­strous—es­pe­cially when the speaker pro­poses the mass poi­son­ing of mi­grant pop­u­la­tions and refers to them as sub­hu­man—the un­der­ly­ing fear is dis­sected in a way that makes un­der­stand­ing achiev­able, even if any ac­cep­tance of the speaker’s per­spec­tive re­mains ab­hor­rent. In his mind, only two ex­tremes are pos­si­ble—ei­ther Greek cul­ture is over­run and erased by these mi­grants in the name of glob­al­iza­tion, or Greece em­braces a stri­dent na­tion­al­is­tic pride and elim­i­nates all out­siders as threats to its tra­di­tions. Such is the mind­set that can lead to geno­cide.

Vic City Ex­press demon­strates the ease with which ha­tred for other hu­mans can be planted and grown. This slim novel is a pow­er­ful in­oc­u­la­tion against the fear that is so read­ily em­braced in these dark and un­cer­tain days.

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