A runner-up to the prestigious Greek State Literary Prize, “End of East” tells the story of a young musician in London, in the 80s.Hunter, the main hero, comes from his fictitious country “Yunanistan”, dreaming of making it big in the music business. Obsessed with Godscal Paleologina, the last princess of Byzantium, who vanished mysteriously in the East End of London in the late 17th century, he takes up residency in Stepney, in the East End of London.
There, he meets Martin, a Welshman musician. The two will team up and join a madcap rock band, which will deliver them into the Hades of the music musiness. Meanwhile, Hunter meets Donna, a mysterious Burmese beauty who works as a hostess at a Japanese bar in the West End. Soon enough she moves in with the two friends in their small council flat. Domesticity takes its toll after a while and, following a bitter argument, Donna leaves the flat and disappears. Hunter, at first relieved to have gotten rid of her, begins to worry as days pass without a word. He fears that Donna might have been kidnapped by the Yakuza and so he gets himself involved in a self-appointed detective mission to rescue her.
While his search for Donna through London’s nightclub scene gets under way, Hunter’s flatmate is experimenting with the systematic use ofhallucinogenic mushrooms.Gradually, Martin enters into a permanent state of hallucination believing that the Moon is the secret base of enemy starships, a kind of galactic Hell…
Key role to the plot will be played by a mysterious New Age philosopher named Magus Pyrrhus, who will pose a number of crucial philosophical questions on the existence of Free Will and the virtual automation of human nature. Donna’s love will be forever lost in the whirl of an Andalusian flamenco; rejection and the longing for the “lost motherland” will push Hunter’s world to ruin, in a fatal scene between him and Martin, in a decrepit flat deep in the heart of the East End, where ghosts, angels and saints mix with illusions and fears to a delirious and explosive cocktail of despair and greatness.
Greece: Kedros (1996)
…eyes full of “the promise to reproduce”, night-clubs and a rhythm of writing which resonates in speakers of many kilowatts. (TO VIMA)
… Burmese beauties, hallucinogens, rock bands, echoes of science fiction and the Yakuza mafians, make the story-telling all the more enjoyable. A genuine child of the American tradition glorified by Thomas Pynchon, Zarkadakis is not only interested about the future, but has a future as a writer too.(STATUS)
The terminology and subtleties of rock music become the reference point of George Zarkadakis’ novel writing style and mythology. Written with vibrant pace which stems from the combination of grotesque as well as lyrical expressions, sarcasm and stochasm, this work is a chronicle of the aspirations of the immigrant-artist in a “Mythological” London, as well as a microscopic view of the immigrant’s virus.
With a well-structured flashback the hero follows his mystification, his rise and fall in the city which “the tourists call London while we, its unwanted babies call simply the city”. The ideological reference point of the novel is given right from the start: “We are shadows on a white sheet, shadows which make all kinds of comic tricks, which spend their limited time of their existence without care, between a pathetic shag and an awesome palace…” From then on begins a race of existential soul search; the hero tells the disillusion of his dreams in London where he arrives under the pretence of University studies in order to become a member in the biggest rock band ever. Naturally, the carnivorous cliques of record companies and managers neutralize him. At the same time “the poisonous ghetto dust” metamorphosizes him, disorients him, enlarges the inner emptiness. Even love, the sole exit towards the “other”, proves itself equally bloody and carnivorous in this city where “everyone and everything is always just passing through”. The process of recovery is painful and its result doubtful. The fulfillment of the eternal “nostimon imar” (the day of return to the homeland) accompanies with wonderful economy the main points of the plot, without ever happening since “there is something still missing. A small click in order for everything to be tied together and the harmony of the Universe to be re-established”.
The style of the writer, much more mature and elaborate than his first novel, is defined by two main parameters; on one hand, the acute humor and irony which diffract the picture of the world; on the other hand, a virginal vision which undermines whatever seems to be given and upturns the expected. The narrative material is structured as a series of events along an axis, the ”absolute medium of ecstasy, the primal method by which mankind touched the divine”, music and in particular rock music. “There is no greater drug than standing on a stage and playing loud music in front of a screaming public…the rock’n’roll dream is the craziest exhalation of the senses, the most fantastic adventure of all Ages, the Holy Grail which delivers immortality”.
The ideological stuff of the novel is woven through various perspectives. Philosophy, experience and aesthetic quest have a common denominator: the imminent end, the lack of free will, the illusion of progress. The result is a courageous rock novel which uses its crude realism to constantly fuel the inner landscape, where sad songs harmonize in symphony with the “ethereal music of the Universe”, the roots.
Review by Ms Katerina Kostiou, published in “Kathimerini” on 23 June 1996