Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Alan Furst, Hellenophile

Spy novelist talks Greece at LES shul

Print Email
Alan Furst.(

“How could I say no to signing books at a Greek Jewish synagogue in the Lower East Side?” asked Alan Furst, Tablet Magazine contributor and best-selling author of spy novels such as Spies of the Balkans. It was last Thursday at Kehila Kedosha Janina, an 83-year-old synagogue on Broome Street near Allen. The entrance to the New York City landmark sported two flags: Old Glory and the proud blue-white of Greece. That’s because Kehila Kedosha Janina was founded in 1927 by Romaniotes, Jews who according to legend shipwrecked on the Grecian coast after the destruction of the Second Temple. The congregation has maintained close ties to the old country since its founding, and now doubles as a museum devoted to Greek Jewry.

Museum director Marcia Haddad Ikonomopolouos invited Furst to speak because she was impressed by “the picture he painted of Salonika at the time.” Furst, who is known for his fastidious grasp of historical details, demurred, “You can’t get it wrong when you write about historical facts. The idea of getting it wrong is unthinkable.”

The event fell on the 70th anniversary of Ohi Day, when Greeks celebrate the beginning of the successful six-month resistance against invading Italian Fascists. Furst, who is prone to animated historical storytelling, suggested that this little-heralded front was one of the major turning points in the war. “Hitler,” he said, “never wanted to invade Greece.”

The crowd of Greeks, Jews, book-lovers, and various hybrids of same enjoyed quizzing Furst on history and writing. The attraction was mutual. Although the novelist finished his press junket for the book months ago, he felt he couldn’t resist the chance.

The talk itself took place in the women’s section of the synagogue, which is lined with modern art and beautiful historical artifacts from the old country, including fragile and colorful, centuries-old kimono-like wedding gowns. The discussion was broad, broaching topics like European history, being a child on the Upper West Side (“where they grow Jewish writers”), and the Greek national character, which Furst praised—to the general amusement of some of the Greeks in the audience.

Sad Missions [Tablet Magazine]
Men of Mystery [Tablet Magazine]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

nice a day Tablet Magazine , i review your blog , this a nice blog and perfect. Best for everyone. best review for News

I love spies books
spies pf the balkans…great book!

You have observed very interesting details ! ps nice internet site . “Do not quench your inspiration and your inmagination do not become the slave of your model.” by Vincent Van Gogh.

Can I simply say what a reduction to search out somebody who really knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You positively know how you can convey a problem to gentle and make it important. More folks must read this and perceive this facet of the story. I cant consider youre not more in style since you positively have the gift.

I’ve said that least 990637 times. The problem this like that is they are just too compilcated for the average bird, if you know what I mean

Thank you, I have just been looking for information about this subject for ages and yours is the greatest I’ve discovered till now. But, what about the bottom line? Are you sure about the source?

You must know, your submit goes to the center from the issue. Your clearness leaves me wanting to know additional. merely so you know, i will instantly grab your feed to keep up to date with your website. Sounding Out thanks is purely my little way of saying bravo for a wonderful resource. Accept my nicest wishes for your inflowing article.

Wonderful post.Never knew this, regards for letting me know.

Most reliable of most, they may be stylish enough to utilize out there in public areas : although they may be simply comfy uggs cheap, they’ll not probably seem preposterous on trips from your world.

I enjoy just going for a break from studying and stopping by your website. I just wish you posted more frequently.

Hello, Neat post. There’s an issue together with your web site in internet explorer, might test this… IE nonetheless is the market chief and a big portion of people will pass over your wonderful writing due to this problem.

Your current article always have many of really up to date info. Where do you come up with this? Just stating you are very resourceful. Thanks again


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Alan Furst, Hellenophile

Spy novelist talks Greece at LES shul

More on Tablet:

Obama: Denying Israel’s Right to Exist as a Jewish Homeland is Anti-Semitic

By Yair Rosenberg — The president draws a line in the sand in his latest interview