Good Will Come From the Sea


Translated from by

Published: March 12, 2019



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Book Description

Christos Ikonomou’s collection Good Will Come From the Sea is a dirge for the Greek economic crisis and the devastation it has wrought, a profound meditation on the nature of justice in an unjust world. On an unnamed island, struggling migrants and trapped locals endure the crushing weight of poverty in these four linked stories.

Artemis and Stavros see their dreams destroyed when a local cartel burns down their restaurant; wheelchair-bound Chronis agonizes as a neighbor assaults a young girl. Meanwhile, Lazarus wanders the island in search of his lost son, “disappeared” at the hands of the local mob – the same gangsters who break visionary Tasos’s body and spirit for daring to stand up to them.

As the characters mourn their livelihoods, loved ones, and dreams, only ghostly threads of hope keep them marching toward a future that shows little promise of change. Good Will Come From the Sea is a tender and defiant song of loss, a study of poverty’s toll on the human soul.


The first story, "I’ll Swallow Your Dreams,” from Christos Ikonomou’s Good Will Come From the Sea—a dystopian collection about Greece’s economic devastation—blew my head off with its tender and awful brutality.
Maggie Nelson, The New York Times

About halfway through Christos Ikonomou’s Good Will Come from the Sea, as the titular story wound to an end, I realized I hadn’t been breathing. My eyes were trained on the text, moving determinedly down the page, but my breath had caught somewhere between my lungs and the roof of my mouth...Karen Emmerich’s faultless translation is populated by people fighting to maintain their livelihoods and dignity under circumstances beyond their small, human control. To say this is a book about the crisis would be too limiting. Rather, it is a book about people staring foggily into a future difficult to discern while trying to navigate an unmarked present.
Julia Sanches, Three Percent

(Ikonomou) delivers stories of the marginalized, the underdogs, weaving together a provincial cosmos from a panoply of nearly palpable voices, finally insisting in his fiction on “the indestructibility of man” ... Ikonomou lets loose astounding images ... They are protests against the loss of story, and reach into the primal place in our souls.
Leeore Schnairsohn, Los Angeles Review of Books

The characters were having a universal struggle...Ikonomou nailed it exactly– we feel depressed not by the things that are currently happening to us, but by the things that are not happening anymore. Anyone can get used to a new situation, but forgetting the past can be impossible. This collection made me tear up at many points, because I – and really I think everyone – can relate to that clawing mourn of a better yesterday.
Caridad Cole, Community Bookstore

If there is something like a literature of the EU, this will be, for the present at least, what it looks like.
Nicholas Dames, Public Books

Ikonomou approaches the grimness and desperation of his characters’ lives with lightness and humor, in an idiomatic Greek seamlessly translated by Karen Emmerich. ... In his prose, the lyrical and the rough are always intertwined. ... Together with Something Will Happen, You'll See, these books make a persuasive case for regarding Ikonomou as Greece’s most original and perceptive chronicler of his country’s fears and yearnings.
Fani Papageorgiou, The New York Times

The rhapsodic lyricism and dry gallows humor, the speed and nimbleness of the tonal shifts, drew me in to these books. The sympathy of Ikonomou’s characterization – the humanity he captures on the page – made me keep reading.

Francine Prose, Harper's Magazine

In this collection, some characters are hardened by their experiences, some find courage, and some lose themselves in delusions. Each of their stories is gripping from the first to the last.

Christopher Byrd, Vulture

Ikonomou’s Good Will Come From The Sea is a combination of song and dirge, both lyrical and despairing...Of all contemporary Greek writers, Christos Ikonomou is among the closest to the heart of his devastated nation.
Jacob Silkstone, Asymptote Journal

All four of the tales here examine themes of exploitation, class conflict, and deep discontent, suggesting that life in 21st-century Greece is far more dystopian than idyllic. A grim set of stories in which characters feel imprisoned and current social conditions don't allow much room for hope.

Kirkus Reviews

Ikonomou masterfully takes readers inside narrow points of view to reveal both their biases and the deeply felt motives behind those biases. The result is a highly empathetic and often darkly funny portrait of a country at war with itself. ... Without denying or belittling his country’s pain, Ikonomou writes of a Greece where the sun still rises.

Ellie Robins, BOMB

The impressive diversity of voices adds depth to the bleakness of these lives trapped on the brink of survival. This powerful collection will move readers with its focus on despairing people battered by forces beyond their control.

Publishers Weekly

In these stark stories, Christos Ikonomou gives us a visceral sense of what it’s like to live in a country buffeted by “austerity measures.” “If you’re in need… you’re a foreigner everywhere,” says one of his characters, as we finger the ragged threads of an unraveling social fabric. This book is witness to a nation torn down to the foundation; it witnesses, and it asks a question: Now what?
Eleni Sikelianos

The stories in Good Will Come From the Sea explode off the page then dig beneath the skin. Irreverent yet unabashedly vulnerable, surreal yet grounded in the most visceral emotions, Ikonomou has given us characters that leap up and take hold and never quite let us go. This book is spectacular.
Maaza Mengiste, author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze

Christos Ikonomou continues to explore through fiction a society that, in its dislocation, shakes up everything. Starting with the most deprived.

William Irigoyen, Le Monde diplomatique

Ikonomou’s short-stories in Good Will Come From the Sea flow like silk – they can be read in one go; his prose just flows.
To Vima, 2014

It is truly impressive how the author has ‘absorbed’ the particularities of Greek society in all its contradictions, injustices, hopes and despair transforming them into a convincing and stimulating prose.
Yannis Tsirbas, I Efimerida ton Syntakton, 2014

Ikonomou, with literary boldness, ‘rewrites’ the stereotypical references of contemporary Greece: antiquity, Christianity and the West…Ikonomou answers to Shakespearean Hamlet’s perennial question with the following: ‘In this country the big question is not whether to live or not but how to live’ and the answer to this is ‘we are better than what we’ve become’.

Mikela Hartoulari, I Efimerida ton Syntakton, 2014

The Greek Faulkner... one of the most touching chronicles of the economic crisis to have come out of Greece.
La Repubblica, Italy

"...What about the Greeks? How were they telling the story of how things had gotten to this point? For English-language readers trying to answer this question, Christos Ikonomou’s short stories have been a breath of fresh air from the stuffy corridors in Brussels. His first translated collection, Something Will Happen, You’ll See, appeared in 2016. Now, English-language readers can read his second collection, Good Will Come from the Sea. Both are eloquently translated by Karen Emmerich.
Bécquer Seguín, Public Books, 2019

Read “I’ll Swallow Your Dreams” from the collection, featured in Harper’s Magazine here.

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