In July 2012, journalist and author Laurie Penny and Molly Crabapple, known for her Victorian inspired art and her role in Occupy Wall Street, went to crisis-ridden Greece, spending six days and nights to gather first hand impressions and see what actual people living there have to say. “Discordia”, published only three months later, in digital form only, is the result of this: an essay of about 24,000 words by Penny, enriched with amazing illustrations by Crabapple, often incorporating elements of actual graffiti that is still shaping the Athens cityscape.
“Discordia” is a highly informative and compelling read. Penny’s writing is really captivating and the result of getting very close with people, making even initially tight-lipped collocutors open up. To be very clear, “Discordia” is not about merely reporting and informing, but is to a large extent commentary and certainly also a call to action: Penny is just as angry with the status quo she is writing about as the people that are getting a chance to speak in “Discordia”. Sometimes, she digresses a little from the core message of the book, but not as much as to risk losing the thread completely.
I did not like much of what I had to read in this book, but that’s the whole point, of course. There are a lot of personal stories in here that are really upsetting, even more so knowing that these are no isolated cases. Other parts of the book are plain frightening: The increasing influence of the Nazis in a country suffering from its imposed austerity programme and the utter impotence when faced with a police that is looking away at best sound all too much like Weimar Republic 2.0. Why most of the media say nothing about this development is beyond me (just today, the Guardian published an article about Greek anti-fascist protesters being tortured by police with connections to fascist Golden Dawn party, but press coverage like this remains the exception).
“Discordia” is a must-read not only for people who like to think they know all about the Greek crisis. The agility enabled by the digital-only publication is one of the crucial quality of this book: This is not a chronicle of what happened back in the days, but a very relevant piece of journalism here and now. At the same time it is much more extensive, better researched and edited than a typical blog article can be. This agility also made it possible to include a coda about the arrestment of Molly Crabapple during the Occupy Wall Street one year anniversary, which happened less than two weeks before the book’s release.