Search the Site

On the Quay at Smyrna (Working Title 3.2)

On the Quay at Smyrna narrates in awful detail the violence and suffering wrought by the Turks during the Greco-Turkish War, seen primarily through the eyes of a teenage girl. It conveys the vibrant sights and smells, the sounds and tastes, the daily routines—with all their tedium and richness—that characterized the lives of its inhabitants from the days before the city's sacking. Margot Demopoulos tells the story of Penelope, the adolescent daughter of a Greek Smyrniot banker and a mother renowned within the city and beyond as a healer. The family is cosmopolitan, and planning a move to Paris in the autumn, where Penelope will study art. Their lives are comfortable and privileged, surrounded by the songs of the birds kept by Penelope's sister, Nikki, as well as the kilims, coffee, dates, and flowers for which Turkey and Smyrna were (and remain) famous. Penelope's best friend is the daughter of a French consular official. Her new boyfriend is a Turkish Smyrniot who works for an American licorice company. Her concerns are those of a well-off young woman with a talent for watercolor and a blossoming illicit love. Through Penelope, Demopoulos limns the thinness of the line between war at a “safe” distance, and war as it closes in and finally breaks upon the city. With rich foreshadowing, imagery, and dialogue, she develops an increasing atmosphere of threat, building like the heat the narrator describes, discomfiting the reader as it inevitably disrupts the routines of the characters. Read an excerpt here, and purchase on Kobo, Amazon, or Weightless Books.

Margot Demopoulos has published work in the Sewanee Review, Kenyon Review, Harvard Review Online, Fiction International, and elsewhere. Her essay, “Patrick Leigh Fermor: We May Just Forget to Die,” and her novel excerpt, “The Invasion,” were published in the Massachusetts Review.

Michael Thurston is the Helen Means Professor of English Language and Literature at Smith College. He is the author of Reading Postwar British and Irish Poetry (with Nigel Alderman); The Underworld in Twentieth-Century Poetry: From Pound and Eliot to Heaney and Walcott, and Making Something Happen: American Political Poetry between the World Wars. He co-edited Modernism, Inc.: Body, Capital, Memory, with Jani Scandura.

Working Titles Currently Available

Working Title 1.3: Tomorrow We Never Did Talk About It

a story by Eduardo Halfon, translated by Anne McLean

Working Title 1.4: Emergency Exit

a story by Carissa Halston

Working Title 1.5: Strange Mercies

a story by Pete Duval

Working Title 1.6: Just Another Jihadi Jane

a novel excerpt by Tabish Khair

Working Title 1.7: Ambrosia

a story by Lee Upton

Working Title 2.2: Time Served

an essay by J. Malcolm Garcia

Working Title 2.3: The Leader

a story by Nouri Zarrugh

Working Title 3.1: Table for One

A story by Yun Ko Eun, translated by Lizzie Buehler

On the Quay at Smyrna (Working Title 3.2)

a novella by Margot Demopoulos

The Tombs of Guy Debord

An Essay by Jean-Marie Apostolidès, translated by Laure Katsaros and Rene Kooiker

Night Hands

Jen Cross

AMOUR: Fields of Battle, Fields of Love

Véronique Tadjo, translated by Carolyn Shread

Silence Like Blood

Marie-Célie Agnant, translated by Dawn Fulton


Michael Thurston

Bird Girl

Avital Balwit


Jean Améry, translated by Emory Klann

Roe: Telling the Tale

Joyce Avrech Berkman

Working Title 8.1: Coming Home

An Essay by Judith Filc

Join the email list for our latest news