The Geckos of Bellapais

Joachim Sartorius / Translated by Stephen Brown

‘This delightful book is not really about lizards at all – though Joachim Sartorius’s affection for these tiny, semi-transparent cohabitants of a house he once rented in the north of Cyprus does provide a kind of leitmotif.’ 
Times Literary Supplement

‘A must-read for anyone heading to Cyprus or in need of a summery armchair getaway.’

‘This is a book to escape to when the stresses of life get too much, and you want to dream about summer and the scent of jasmine and the sight of a Crusader castle.’
Today’s Zaman 


The history of the island of Cyprus is in many ways a world history. Coveted by a succession of foreign powers and host to several empires, Cyprus possesses the monuments and artistic heritage to rival those of anywhere in the world, from the Byzantine ruins at Salamis to the fortified harbour of Kyrenia and the magnificent cathedral at Famagusta, the setting for Shakespeare’s Othello.

Poet and diplomat Joachim Sartorius lived and worked in Cyprus for many years, both before and after the division of 1974 and the difficulties that followed. Filtering the sediments of Cyprus’ rich history, The Geckos of Bellapais is an impressionistic account of the island he knew, written with a heartfelt enthusiasm for its people, culture, and the rugged beauty of the Aegean.

JOACHIM SARTORIUS is a poet, translator and commentator. He grew up in Tunis and spent twenty years in the diplomatic service in New York, Istanbul and Nicosia. He was Secretary General of the Goethe Institut until 2000, and from 2001-2011 was Director of the Berliner Festspiele. He lives and works in Berlin. A collection of his poetry, Ice Memory (Carcanet, 2006), is available in English. He is the author of The Princes’ Islands.

STEPHEN BROWN is a playwright, translator, and cultural critic.

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