Greek author Christos Ikonomou on Tuesday won the inaugural Chowdhury Prize for Literature, an international prize for writers – and the first literary prize of its kind on the West Coast of the United States.
Born in Athens in 1970, Ikonomou has published four collections of short stories, including “Something Will Happen, You’ll See”, which won the prestigious Greek award for best short story collection and was the most commented Greek book in 2011. .
His books have been translated into over 12 languages. “Good Will Come from The Sea” has been shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Awards 2020 and the London Hellenic Prize.
Ikonomou’s dystopian stories, set in Greece’s political and economic culture of austerity, tell of its devastating effect on working people.
Ikonomou’s Chowdhury Award wins unanimous decision
David Ulin, Chowdhury Prize Trustee, Associate Professor of English at USC Dornsife and former Los Angeles Times book publisher and book reviewer, said the jury’s decision to award the prize to Ikonomou was unanimous.
“We thought he did amazing creative work, and we also thought his work had an amazing social component,” Ulin said. “But the most important aspect for us as judges was the power of the writing – the power of language, the power of ideas, the power of characters and conflict, the intractable nature of what its characters are up against, which is not unrelated to the intractable nature of what we’re all, in some way, up against, and it all made us really want to support this writer in the sequel.
President Sean Decatur of Kenyon College, who was instrumental in establishing the award, said: “Kenyon’s legacy as a college of writers is built on the belief that words have the power to inspire human emotions and to inspire a deeper understanding of the world. We are delighted to honor the already extraordinary work of Mr. Ikonomou, and also to support his future influence in broadening our perception of the human experience.
The Chowdhury Prize aims to raise awareness of lesser-known international works
Ulin pointed out that part of the aim of the award is to raise awareness among a wider audience of an important writer who might otherwise have gone unnoticed.
“The percentage of translated works sold in this country is miniscule,” Ulin said. “For an American audience, it has almost certainly been entirely overlooked. So for us to be able to bring this work, which is extremely important, to the attention of readers who I think will benefit from it and to be able to connect it with this audience, is an important part of this initiative. ”
The prize was awarded by the Department of English at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, USA, in conjunction with Kenyon College and the Kenyon Review.
Ikonomou will be honored at a gala ceremony to be held at Town and Gown on USC’s University Park campus on April 21, the day before the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books kicks off with its Book Awards Ceremony, which will take place at USC.