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Preservation of American Hellenic History

Remember Us
a Novel by Jason C. Mavrovitis

Description from a media-release interview with the author

Jason C. Mavrovitis, who distanced himself from his own Greek heritage to feel more American, was not thinking of the historical implications when he started to wonder why his parents had no wedding photos. What started as a simple investigation into his parent's marriage, lead to a full scale journey into the history of the United States, the Ottoman Empire, the Balkan and First World Wars, and a small Greek-speaking town on the coast of the Black Sea. His fact finding journey into his own history spanned several generations, helped him to come to peace with his own cultural identity, and opened a personal window into the world of the Greek immigrants of decades before. After the success of his investigations, published on the Internet at the Preservation of American Hellenic History website (PAHH) as Out of the Balkans, Mavrovitis used fiction to fill in the gaps in his research to produce his upcoming book, Remember Us (ISBN: 978-0-6151-6357-4) — a novelized treatment of his findings written for a wider audience.

Remember Us is based on the lives of my maternal grandmother and her family, and my mother and father as well as oral accounts, documented history, ships' passenger lists, naturalization papers, court transcripts and municipal records, newspaper and tabloid articles, monographs by descendants of people who experienced the pogroms in Bulgaria, and suggestions from academics. Scenes, dialogue, and some of the characters are invented. "It is fiction based on truth," says Mavrovitis, who has authored additional fiction and short works prior to this, his first novel. "Performing the research and writing the novel gave me a great appreciation for what my ancestors overcame to immigrate to this country and succeed."

Mavrovitis' initial project was meant simply as a present for his family. On his journey into his ancestors' history he uncovered many surprises, including romance, a secret annulment, a scandal reported by The New York Times, an assassination attempt and more, the details of which he wrote, surrounded with photos and maps, and distributed to close relatives as gifts. But, to his surprise, with the exposure through PAHH, he found that his work was of relevance to a larger community, not only of Greek-Americans but also to others interested in immigration and US history as well as the compelling story behind the research. Soon, he found himself receiving requests for his family project.

I had requests from all over the world for copies of the book," said Mavrovitis. At the suggestion of a reader, he decided to make it more accessible by turning it into a novel. Through this process, he found the facts of his family history and his own cultural identity. "Ironically, as a teenager I rebelled against being a 'Greek'-American, wanting to be 100% American. I served in the U.S. Army in Europe and, at my father's insistence, visited Greece while there. Seeing the Parthenon hit me like an emotional sledgehammer and visiting my father's village in the mountains of northern Greece linked me to my Macedonian heritage … I began the search for my identity. The journey culminated with my reclaiming my family name, Mavrovitis, embracing it many years after my father, for reasons unknown, had changed our family name to Mavis.

In addition to giving him a fresh perspective and appreciation for his family and how they shaped his identity, Mavrovitis gained a new understanding for the current immigration situation.

Remember Us celebrates the immigrant and his struggle and assimilation into American society: language, culture, education, etc. I would like to see today's immigrants follow the lead of the characters in my book. They valued and maintained their culture but also amalgamated with other ethnicities to become Americans. … We who are born in the United States should honor and respect both those who sacrificed in order for us to enjoy freedom and opportunity and the new immigrants who follow their example.

Remember Us is published by Golden Fleece Publishing, 2007.

The book is available at Amazon.com. It is also available at BarnesandNoble.com.

About the Author

Jason C. Mavrovitis was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His short stories have appeared in The National Herald and Greece in Print: a Journal of Greek Literature and Culture. Remember Us is his first novel. He is currently writing short stories, and a historical novel set in the 11th century Balkans. He and his wife Bette live in California, in the wine country north of San Francisco, and enjoy opera, symphony, and concerts in San Francisco and other Bay Area venues.

See the memoirs by Jason C. Mavrovitis published earlier by PAHH, Out of the Balkans.


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