Author(s): Christos Ikonomou (Trans: Karen Emmerich)
In the urban sprawl between Athens and Piraeus, the narratives of these stories roam restlessly through the impoverished working-class quarters located off the tourist routes. It's 2011 and the now well-documented Greek economic crisis of 2014 is well underway. Everyone is dreaming of escape: to the mountains, to an island or a palatial estate, into a Hans Christian Andersen story world. What are they fleeing? The old woes - gossip, watchful neighbours and the oppression and indifference of the rich - now made infinitely worse.
"In Ikonomou s timely novel, the human fallout of the Greek economic recession is writ large. . . .Concerned with the bottom rungs of the social ladder, [these] pieces . . . cover an astonishing range. . . .These stories add up to a panorama of the human spirit under siege and a searing indictment of the failures to reform the Greek infrastructure." --"Publishers Weekly" "This poignant collection of short stories masterfully explores the soul of the Greek people amidst economic crisis. The stories are unique and raw and delve deep into the emotional landscape of unemployment, hunger and despair but include fragments of dark humor and attempts at preserving dignity. From a laid off worker who cannot provide food for his son to a woman whose boyfriend steals her nest egg to a group of sick old men awaiting the opening of a clinic, we are privy to the innermost thoughts and mundane acts of everyday people who are grappling with difficult circumstances beyond their control. Ikonomou s brilliant imagery and insightful writing is simply beautiful to read and ponder." " "Wellesley Books newsletter "[Ikonomou's stories] are heart-wrenching and moving yet devoid of any sentimentality. They are deeply illuminating, not only about working-class Greeks in the face of the crisis, but, more importantly, about the human condition." -"Publishing Perspectives""A gripping collection of short stories... Christos Ikonomou has already been hailed in the Italian press as a 'Greek Faulkner, ' a description that conveys the emotional power but not the restraint or precision of his prose." -Mark Mazower, "The Nation""The Greek Faulkner... one of the most touching chronicles of the economic crisis to have come out of Greece." -"La Repubblica""Ikonomou redefines the value and the archetypal importance of the Greek epic ... in a few words he depicts the difficulty of living in the here and now." "-Panorama" There s no arrogance in this book. This sensitive chronicler allows the reader to feel his characters existential anxiety from the very first line. " Spiegel Online" The Decameron of the crisis. " Left Magazine" "Ikonomou enters the homes of popular neighborhoods of Piraeus Nikea, Koridallos, Kokkinia and gazes people hoping to find a trace, to locate a clue which allows him to dispel the economic tsunami or to appease the protests. It's an intimate eye he has: he sees faces, events and thoughts from behind the glass of a window, hidden by a corner. Sincere and unmerciful." ANSA News Agency "Christos Ikonomou gives the crisis a face, many faces."- "Neue Zurcher Zeitung" "In 16 intense, touching snapshots he senses the atmosphere in the country and the pain of each individual." -Zuhause Wohnen "The 43-year-old author of Piraeus writes without frills and laconically about the lives of the so-called little people around him." -Simon Hadler/Alexander Musik "Finally, there s a book that drags the Greek reader out of the satiate petty bourgeois frame or the lifestyle craze and throws him deep into the working class slums." "-Ta Nea Newspaper" "Spectacular, bright fiction delivered from an author who has already accomplished much and promises a lot more." -"Kathimerini Newspaper" "[Ikonomou] has brought to the surface the struggles and unfulfilled dreams of Piraeus working classes, highlighting their beauty and the dignity. One of the most powerful books of the year: a novel that s been widely read and admired." -"Eleftherotypia Newspaper ""Ikonomou s gaze never becomes melodramatic or pitiful; nor does it fall into the ease of depicting the extreme. There are absolutely no cliches and the usual stereotypes that accompany the depiction of the poor in literature with this short-story collection (Ikonomou) rewrites the almost forgotten urban social realism into the fabric of Greece s contemporary literature (the author) enters contemporary Greek literature very dynamically." -""Nea Hestia Literary Magazine" ""[Ikonomou s] dialogue sparkles with authenticity whereas his narrative bridges a simple and often rough language with moments of pure lyricism giving out a spark that fuels emotion." -Conteiner Magazine"""
Christos Ikonomou was born in Athens in 1970. He has published two collections of short stories, "The Woman on the Rails" (2003), and "Something will Happen, You'll See" (2010). "Something Will Happen, You'll See" won the prestigious Best Short-Story Collection State Award and became the most reviewed Greek book of 2011. About the Translator: Karen Emmerich's translations from the Greek include books by Margarita Karapanou, Amanda Michalopoulou, Ersi Sotiropoulos, and Vassilis Vassilikos. Her translation ofMiltos Sachtouris for Archipelago was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, and her translation of Yannis Ritsos's "Diaries of Exile" with Edmund Keeley won the 2014 PEN Literary Award. She has received translation grants and awards from PEN, the NEH, and the Modern Greek Studies Association. She teaches at the University of Oregon."