The Scapegoat by Sophia Nikolaidou (Translated by Karen Emmerich) - review by Nicolas Niarchos

Nicolas Niarchos

Greek Tragedy

The Scapegoat


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The Scapegoat is Sophia Nikolaidou’s first book to be translated into English, despite her considerable literary reputation in Greece. It opens with the death of an American journalist as he is travelling to interview a communist leader during Greece’s civil war in the 1940s. Nikolaidou’s account is closely based on the murder of George Polk, a CBS correspondent who was killed in the northern city of Thessaloniki in 1948 (and after whom the George Polk Awards in Journalism are named). The police quickly found a scapegoat, a local reporter named Grigoris Staktopoulos, tortured him until he confessed and sentenced him in what Polk’s brother once described as ‘a Soviet show trial’. At one point Nikolaidou says of Staktopoulos’s torture: ‘They burned his youth in a single night.’

Fast forward to 2010. Minas Georgiou, a talented but erratic student in his last year of school, has just declared that he is refusing to sit his exams for university. His family are all university-educated and despair that he’s ruining his future. His only chance for salvation is with his

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