Not Even My Name
Posted by nliakos on June 22, 2009
by Thea Halo (Picador, 2000/2001)
Thea Halo’s mother was born to Greek parents in present-day Turkey during the Ottoman rule. When she was ten, the Turks drove her and her family out of the village where they and their ancestors had lived for thousands of years and into the interior of the country. Fourteen pages in the middle of the book summarize the general history and background of Turkey’s expulsion of its non-Muslim peoples in the early twnetieth century, and the rest of the book focuses on what happened to Themia, the little Greek girl who became Thea Halo’s mother, Sano. (The title refers to the fact that because the Assyrians she lived with could not pronounce her name, they gave her a new one, thus ending any connection to her Greek past.) After her parents gave her up because they could not feed her, she was abused by the woman she worked for until she finally ran away. At the age of 15, she married an Assyrian man much older than she and emigrated to the United States, where she learned English (possibly her sixth language) and raised a large family. A kind of success story, only it is hard to imagine how she coped with the tragic loss of her entire family. A very sad story, but one that needs to be told.