In a never-ending, staggering march the Christian population of Eastern Thrace is jamming the roads towards Macedonia. Twenty miles of carts drawn by cows, bullocks and muddy-flanked water buffalo, with exhausted men, women and children, blankets over their heads, walking blindly along in the rain beside their worldly goods. It is a silent procession. Nobody even grunts. All they can do is keep moving.’
This quotation from Ernest Hemingway is a description of events in the border zone between Turkey and Greece in September 1922. Stian Bromark's book explores the consequences of the forced migration of populations between the two countries, which Fridtjof Nansen supported. Whole towns were emptied, and 1,6 million people were forced to flee. Greeks and Turks still feel the trauma, and some of those who were directly affected are still alive.
Bromark travels through Greece and Turkey, visiting historic cities such as Istanbul, Athens, Izmir and Thessalonika.
This is a travel book combined with a historic review of the Greek-Turkish conflict.
‘The conditions for a multi-cultural society to function have been a theme running throughout Bromark’s interesting writing. In Hjemreiser he demonstrates clearly how meaningless it is to press people and societies into a single mould and a single identity … This book is fascinatingly topical … Bromark expresses himself brilliantly, as he always does, with little glimmers of fine humour in the descriptions. This historical documentary is written in first class prose.’
‘ … When he is at his best, Bromark knocks the ash off the words with a knack reminiscent of Hemingway. As in this brief exchange of words between the author and a taxi-driver: "‘You can go ahead and light your cigarette. It doesn’t bother me,’ I say. He lights his roll-your-own and opens the window half a centimetre, as if he is afraid of lung disease." With its topics of refugee streams and nationalism, Hjemreiser is topical, important and worth reading.’
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