Eva Asprakis

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By Eva Asprakis

IR Rating:
Eva Asprakis is a gifted writer, and THIRTY-EIGHT DAYS OF RAIN deserves attention for its focus on the problems of young-adult émigrés.
IR Approved
A sad but uplifting novel about a young couple’s immigration struggles and love for their cultural heritage.

Difficulties ranging from infertility to immigration roadblocks make 24-year-old Androulla’s life miserable in Eva Asprakis’s THIRTY-EIGHT DAYS OF RAIN. A bone-deep desire to live where she feels at home drives her quest to become a naturalized citizen of Cyprus, the Mediterranean island nation east of Greece, which is the birth home of her beloved stepfather Kostas. Androulla is an unpublished novelist, and the novel centers on her life with another aspiring writer, Giannis, whom she met in London at a Cypriot poetry reading.

Although born and raised in England, Androulla has always felt like an outsider. This is largely because, early in her childhood, Androulla’s British father (Gary) divorced her Greek mother, Olympia. Gary became an unreliable presence in their lives at a time when Britain itself seemed to reject them (and anyone who appeared to be an immigrant). This anti-immigrant atmosphere, increased by the UK’s split from the European Union (Brexit), eventually causes Olympia and Kostas to move to Cyprus.

Androulla follows along with Giannis, who is a Cypriot by descent but can’t claim citizenship because his family left the island decades ago. Androulla pretends to be her stepfather’s dependent in hopes of gaining adoption and an easier—yet still lengthy—road to citizenship. Meanwhile, she and Giannis can’t legally marry without ruining her bid for adoption.

Eva Asprakis’s novel may make readers want to learn more about Cyprus and the turbulent history of its Greek and Turkish roots, as well as the Cypriot diaspora. On its own, without extra background reading, the novel deepens awareness of how lengthy immigration delays stunt lives. A brief glossary of the novel’s Greek phrases would aid reader understanding, but the book still explains why Giannis becomes a perpetual student and accrues debt to gain temporary visas that allow him to stay in Cyprus (and with Androulla). He pursues a doctorate in hospitality studies, but can legally work only 20 hours a week as a bartender. Meanwhile, Androulla helps pay for her growing medical bills and their beans-and-rice diet through pay-per-word ghostwriting for online clients. Asprakis nails the despondency and loneliness of this occupation.

The novel’s title reflects the dreary, rainy-day grayness that envelops many of the story’s saddest days. It also references the mostly sunny and dry climate of Cyprus, which only has about 38 days of rain annually. Yet rain brings beauty. THIRTY-EIGHT DAYS OF RAIN raises one’s hopes in the end with its focus on endurance and new growth.

Eva Asprakis is a gifted writer, and THIRTY-EIGHT DAYS OF RAIN deserves attention for its focus on the problems of young-adult émigrés.

~Alicia Rudnicki for IndieReader

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