In the space of a generation, Cyprus – the island of Aphrodite, goddess of beauty and love – has experienced an anti-colonial struggle, post-colonial chaos, internecine fighting and hatred, civil war, invasion, population displacements and physical partition. The narrative of Cyprus’ recent history has created numerous attitudes and prejudices which run deep but which have never before been explored on a human level. Now for the first time Yiannis Papadakis, firmly planted in the Greek Cypriot world, sets out to discover ‘The Other’ – the much maligned Turks. Papadakis decided with some trepidation to travek to Constantinople (to his Greek worldview it was still Constantinople) to learn Turkish. There he discovered that actually it is Istanbul, and that Turkey is not the place of his once imagined demonology. Armed with new insights he returned to Cyprus and delved into the two communities, locked in their mutually contemptuous embrace, to explore their common humanity and to understand what has divided them. He focused on Nicosia where the people who used to live together in one neighbourhood found themselves separated by a ‘Dead Zone’, two armies and a UN force.
His was a journey to the various sides of the Dead Zone and to the various zones of the dead, the realms of memory and history. This book is the moving, sometimes humorous and always fascinating account of that journey.