On Homero Aridjis’s “Smyrna in Flames”

Stephanos Papadopoulos in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

On the acknowledgments page at the end of Homero Aridjis’s recently translated novel, Smyrna in Flames, the author admits:

“Almost a hundred years after the atrocities committed by Kemalist forces against Christians; before the demented pyromania of those who reduced Smyrna, the City of Tolerance, to ashes, along with its inhabitants; before the delirium of destruction that possessed the Turks during those days in September 1922, I still cannot find the words to explain, to myself or to others, the Turkish genocide of Asia Minor.”

Aridjis is not alone in this predicament, even after more than 100 pages of prose, the tragedy of the Greek Genocide (1914–’22) remains inexplicable. Few have been able to fully grasp the murderous scale of the events, paired with modern Turkey’s blanket denial, and the complete indifference of much of the rest of the world. But the facts remain: in the early century, Atatürk’s plan to unify the fractured Ottoman Empire under a modern Turkish regime resulted in the systematic extermination of its indigenous Pontic Greek, Assyrian, and Armenian citizens, whose people had lived in Asia Minor for millennia. What began as the Armenian Genocide in 1915 culminated in the forced deportations and final massacre of Pontic Greeks during the burning of Smyrna in 1922.

More here.