Something Will Happen You’ll See reviewed in the TLS

We are delighted to share with you an excellent review on Christos Ikonomou’s Something Will Happen You’ll See (Archipelago Books, 2016) that has just come out in the TLS (Times Literary Supplement) this week.

Είμαστε πολύ περήφανοι και χαρούμενοι για την εξαιρετική κριτική της αγγλικής έκδοσης του Κάτι θα γίνει θα δεις του Χρήστου Οικονόμου (Archipelago Books, 2016) που δημοσιεύθηκε στο TLS (Times Literary Supplement) αυτή την εβδομάδα!

Greek Fiction

Christos Ikonomou
Translated by Karen Emmerich
250pp. Archipelago. Paperback, $18.
978 0 914671 35 0

In sixteen inter-connected short stories, Christos Ikonomou gives us a mural of the lives of people struggling in the working-class neighbourhoods on the outskirts of Athens, the fishing docks and boatyards near the port. Ikonomou’s characters do not sleep – they spend the whole night sitting in the dark in the kitchen or keeping watch on the stoop outside their house. They listen to the tap of the raindrops on the windowsill which “seem to be dripping straight into your heart”.

But mostly they worry in silence. They wander near the waters “which were full of seaweed and branches and pinecones and tin cans and plastic bags and broken fishcrates”. They go out onto the balcony to inhale the scent of bitter orange trees in the rain, pretending they never have to deal with rent payments, debts and broken promises. They put snow chains on their minds to keep themselves from slipping back into the past, since “the most frightening thing isn’t death but memories”.

Feelings of emptiness and shame are truncated by “the heart of a head of lettuce, a tiny miracle, a well-kept secret”, Ellie thinks, as she washes it in the sink, moments after the man she loved ran away with her savings. “Time hardens people”, the air smells like salt and sun and fuel oil, the meaning of life is that it ends but “it’s a great comfort to hear a human voice in the night”. Some won’t go to bed until they see the man nicknamed “Mao” come and sit out on the steps. On the ships, they say that if you light your cigarette from a candle, a sailor will die. Ikonomou’s men and women hold on to such beliefs and, by mixing their despair with the unexpected joys of squandered days, he gives us access into the urban, human predicament. “Take care of that boy. A dog can live with three legs but not with two. Take care.”

Karen Emmerich’s outstanding translation makes sure not only that the lyrical and the rough both survive in the English version, but that the austere and the jumbled, elements which form the Modern Greek language, are both present – this is one of those rare renditions where nothing is lost.

Leave a Reply