Cypria: A Journey to the Heart of the Mediterranean -- A Gripping New History of Cyprus (Hardcover)

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"A brilliant exploration of Cyprus's long history of cultural resilience. Superbly composed." -- Guardian

"Poetic...Compelling" -- New Statesman

One of National Geographic's Summer Reads 2024

Think of a place where you can stand at the intersection of Christian and Arab cultures, at the crossroads of the British, Ottoman, Byzantine, Roman and Egyptian empires; a place marked by the struggle between fascism and communism and where the capital city is divided in half as a result of bloody conflict; where the ancient olive trees of Homer's time exist alongside the undersea cables which link up the world's internet.

In Cypria, named after a lost Cypriot epic which was the prequel to The Odyssey, British Cypriot writer Alex Christofi writes a deeply personal, lyrical history of the island of Cyprus, from the era of goddesses and mythical beasts to the present day.

This sprawling, evocative and poetic book begins with the legend of the cyclops and the storytelling at the heart of the Mediterranean culture. Christofi travels to salt lakes, crusader castles, mosques and the eerie town deserted at the start of the 1974 war. He retells the particularly bloody history of Cyprus during the twentieth century and considers his own identity as traveler and returner, as Odysseus was.

Written in sensitive, witty and beautifully rendered prose, with a novelist's flair and eye for detail, Cypria combines the political, cultural and geographical history of Cyprus with reflections on time, place and belonging.

About the Author


Alex Christofi is Editorial Director at Transworld and author of four books published in 12 languages, including the novels Let Us Be True and Glass, winner of the Betty Trask Prize for fiction. He has written for numerous publications including the Guardian, London Magazine, and the White Review. Dostoevsky in Love was named as a Literary Non-fiction Book of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times.

Praise For…


Engaging, vigorous and at times passionate…Christofi offers a personal account as well as a carefully-annotated history. Rich in curious information.” —David Abulafia, Times Literary Supplement

From ancient myth to modern militarism, a brilliant exploration of Cyprus's long history of cultural resilience. Superbly composed.” —Steven Poole, Guardian

A remarkable book about a beautiful island that has lain in the path of every Mediterranean storm. Christofi is a witty and elegant guide to Cyprus's history.
” —Literary Review

In this finely crafted new history of Cyprus, Christofi tells a remarkable story of an island where Christian and Arab cultures meet at a crossroads of empires, British, Ottoman, Byzantine, Roman and Egyptian. A lyrical account of a divided place that is in a way a microcosm of the European 20th century, but with olive trees.” —The New European

In poetic prose, Cypria tells a wide-ranging national story. Christofi makes a compelling case for Cyprus as a uniquely clear vantage point from which to view the birth of the modern world.” —Pippa Bailey, New Statesman

In this beautifully-written book, Alex Christofi tells of the contradictions that make Cyprus so fascinating, an island as ageless as its olive trees and contestations over its historical memory.” —Marc David Baer, author of The Ottomans

“Christofi sees Cyprus from both the inside and outside, as a returnee and a traveller. The result is a modern, original book that reinvigorates writing about place in an arresting, lucid, and connected way. It puts the island back in the middle of the map, brought to life in Christofi's always beautiful, erudite prose.” —Sophy Roberts, author of The Lost Pianos of Siberia

Clear, erudite and wonderfully affable, Christofi's ability to fuse his own family's relationship to Cyprus with that of its wider history, makes Cypria a necessary and illuminating read. Warm, poised and informative, Christofi's reach is expansive, bringing Cyprus into sharper focus without jettisoning or shying away from complex and sometimes unpleasant aspects of its recent past.” —Anthony Anaxagorou, author of After the Formalities

This beautifully-written book is a delight from start to finish, with gems on every page. Alex Christofi is a fond yet even handed guide to Cyprus. If you have never been this book will make you want to go.” —James Barr, author of Lords of the Desert

Product Details
ISBN: 9781399401883
ISBN-10: 1399401882
Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum
Publication Date: July 23rd, 2024
Pages: 352
Language: English