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At this point, anyone who considers herself Greek has seen the blockbuster independent flick “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” The movie finally helped to implant the Greek girls’ experience on the mind of mainstream America. While the film did manage to get positive reviews, loud guffaws and cross-cultural amusement (not to mention $135 million in box-office receipts) at the plight of the female protagonist and her family’s goal to get her married, preferably to a Greek, is this to be taken as the definitive description of a Greek American woman’s experience? There were many facets in the complex lives of Greek American girls that the movie either failed to address or failed to address in a serious manner.
Being a Greek-American Girl by Irene Archos has just been released to pick up where the movie left off. Written by a quintessential Greek-American girl, raised in Astoria, the quintessential Greek-American town, Being a Greek-American Girl explores the complex issues of growing up as a hyphenated American. Part-memoir, part-reflective personal essay, the book tries to capture the angst of growing up a girl in a metropolis from a conservative, “Old World” family in America. The frustrations, concerns, and joys represent to a large degree the collective angst of all Greek-American women. The book chronicles the mixed feelings of “Coming To America,” reflects on the parallel reality of growing up in Greece. It sketches caricatures of the major players in the Greek-American family, pokes fun at some of the strange rituals in the culture, and re-views the Old Country under the bifocal lens of multiculturalism.
Being a Greek-American Girl describes the tensions brought on by two contrary drives—the drive to mask one’s original ethnicity in order to become successful in the dominant culture and the drive to hold onto one’s culture before it is irrevocably lost.
Being a Greek-American Girl delves into the deep roots of identity and attempts to mold an answer to the question—What exactly is a Greek-American? Swaying from the smugly critical to the endearingly embracing, this creative non-fictional account is sure both to amuse and to insult, to give answers and to raise questions, to create controversy and to build community.
Irene Archos, author of Being a Greek-American Girl, is a freelance author and journalist. She first explored the issues pivotal to the Greek-American experience in a weekly column for the Greek-American daily The National Herald (O Ethnikos Kerykx). “I felt compelled to write this book because I found that only through a full-length book could I talk deeply about the issues critical to me, not only as a Greek American, but as a woman. Much of the Greek media is in the hands of older, staided Greek men who don’t have an interest in the feelings, the concerns, nor in the voices of Greek women.” As stated in the “Preface,” the book came was written as a way to vindicate the existence of Greek Americans as a vital minority, long-overlooked by mainstream America and as a way to establish the voice of a Greek woman as a legitimate literary entity.