Shades of Resistance: A Novel by Josph Matthews
Set in 1973 Greece during the military dictatorship there, the novel follows thirty-year-old American Jonas Korda as he stumbles blindly into the islands of the Aegean. Attempting to physically escape from a life—a disillusioned engagement with 1960s politics and an ill-fated sort-of-marriage—that he has long since emotionally fled, Jonas is instead faced with the question of his capacity for true human connections.
Unwittingly he becomes involved with two expatriate Greeks who had self-exiled from their homeland six years before, when the military junta took power, but who are now returning to create oppositional energy through the form, as musicians, they know best: traditional Greek poetry set to the music of a composer who’s been banned by the brutal and surreal junta. Through the force of their commitment and sacrifice, Jonas is reacquainted with the relation between the heart and the larger world.
Jonas is also confronted, sequentially, by two women who in very different ways bring his emotional struggles into focus. One—a Greek-Canadian searching for her father lost somewhere to the depredations of the dictatorship—who seeks to draw him in. The other—an alienated Belgian painter turning her back on a life of artistic and gender frustrations—who holds him away.
The novel’s lyrically evoked Greek islands are counterpoint to political terror captured with both shuddering intensity and mordant black humor. Shades of Resistance is that rare work of fiction that explores the relationship between the personal and the political, the heightened responses of a man trapped in a moment of history.