Something Will Happen, You’ll See


Translated from by

Published: March 15, 2016



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Book Description

Something Will Happen, You’ll See is a heart-wrenching elegy on the impoverished working-class Greeks populating the neighborhoods around Piraeus, the large port southwest of Athens. Ikonomou’s luminous and poignant short stories center around laid-off steelworkers, warehousemen, families, pensioners, and young couples faced with sudden loss and turmoil. Between docks, in tenement buildings, and on city streets Ikonomou’s men and women sustain their traumas on flickers of hope in the darkness and on their deep faith in humanity. An illuminating examination of the human condition, Ikonomou’s award-winning book has become the literary emblem of the Greek crisis; stories so real, humane, and haunting that they will stay with the reader long after the final page.

A gripping collection of short stories... In Ikonomou’s concrete streets, the rain is always looming, the politicians’ slogans are ignored, and the police remain a violent, threatening presence offstage. Yet even at the edge of destitution, his men and women act for themselves, trying to preserve what little solidarity remains in a deeply atomized society, and in one way or another finding their own voice. There is faith here, deep faith — though little or none in those who habitually ask for it.

Mark Mazower, The Nation

Ikonomou’s Something Will Happen, You’ll See depicts many lives, of all ages, that have been blighted by financial hardship. The book stands with Rafael Chirbes’s On the Edge as one of the remarkable literary interpretations of the recent global downturn.

Christopher Byrd, Barnes and Noble Review

Heart-wrenching and moving... deeply illuminating, not only about working-class Greeks in the face of the crisis, but, more importantly, about the human condition.

Publishing Perspectives

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.


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...Yet in this grey landscape there is hidden beauty, humanity and a will for life at the edge of the cliff. [The author’s] gaze is vivid and warm without being sentimental or pedantic.

Ta Nea Newspaper

I found the sixteen short stories of Christos’ Ikonomou collection “Kati tha ginei, tha deis” exquisite… They belong to literature’s upper echelons...[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] 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

[Ikonomou] has managed successfully to balance emotion and avoid melodrama and to convey his powerful and precise images in an excellent prose that has been worked to perfection, with each word chosen carefully. He never becomes quaint; on the contrary he manages to describe everything from a distance… All his short-stories are excellent… Something Will Happen You’ll See is the most interesting book of the year.

Librofilo Blog

Ikonomou’s gaze never becomes melodramatic or pitiful; nor does it fall into the ease of depicting the extreme. There are absolutely no clichés 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

A short story collection that marks the failure of contemporary Greek politics […] Spectacular, bright fiction delivered from an author who has already accomplished much—and promises a lot more...Without any drama but with great lyricism [Ikonomou] describes the darkness of the poor, often with humor, with vivid dialogues and lyrical pictures...A collection that seals with the stamp of literature the failures of post-dictatorship Greece; explosive and brilliant short stories.

Kathemerini Newspaper

And maybe this is what makes Ikonomou’s heroes so tragic and emotional but never pathetic: their ethics. The author’s flowing, natural, humble humanity allows a sweet consoling light to pervade into their world.


Christos Ikonomou is a brilliant storyteller and his book is one of the best in Greek contemporary literature.

To Vima

With his second collection, Christos Ikonomou gains a remarkable place among Greek contemporary short story writers.

Book Press

There's no arrogance in this book. The sensitive chronicler allows the reader to feel his characters’ existential anxiety from the very first line.

Spiegel Online

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.

Phyllis K. Spinale, Wellesley Books

[Ikonomou's] characters might feel like they are suffering private tragedies, but Something Will Happen repeatedly calls our attention to the subtle human connections that remain. . . . Karen Emmerich deserves special praise for her translation of Ikonomou’s charming, vernacular, and energetic prose.

Ratik Asokan, Bookforum

[A] heart-wrenching book of fiction. Everyone in this book is hungry, longing, hopeful, hopeless, broke but not broken.

Chris Ames, Green Apple Books

These haunting narratives and their conversational titles have the poignancy to sink into a reader’s memory and life.

Daniel Larkins, The Rumpus

Telling the stories of ordinary people whose lives have been destroyed by Greece’s economic crisis, it echoes the classical tragedies in form, while using completely modern language that captures a moment of utter sorrow, betrayal and hopelessness.


An unbelievable whoosh of impassioned, yet spare, writing about the economic troubles in Greece—told through short stories—that could be about the capitalistic struggle of the free market anywhere.

Lit Hub

In much the way John Steinbeck laid open the migrant worker culture of mid-century California, Ikonomou exposes us to the realities of Greek poverty, the bitter taste of politics, and the generational divide. These stories are pitch-perfect, with sullen anger, wit, sharp humor, and tragicomedy captured in sharply crafted scenes that linger in the memory.

The Los Angeles Review of Books

This collection is a kind of Dubliners for the postcrisis generation and a lament for the marginalized inhabitants of neighborhoods around the shipping district of Piraeus. ... a stunning, if somewhat bleak, sketch of a country in flux.

World Literature Today

"[Ikonomou] reminds us that amid desperation there is beauty. There is tenderness. Stubbornness. Confusion... His ability to evoke a particular moment, to enter the lives of men and women, make those lives comprehensible to anyone anywhere, who’s ever worried over bills, and somehow work on a more cosmic scale, is remarkable. It’s rare and shiny and sort of like magic."

Ingrid C. Wenzler Ploughshares

"Ikonomou gives us access into the urban, human predicament ... 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."

Times Literary Supplement

"Ikonomou taps into and articulates something larger, looming, and relevant to all peoples."

Ron Slate, On the Seawall

"Ikonomou’s writing brilliantly and sensitively conveys hope, fear, and everything in between. He realizes that the mind plays games when faced with something it can’t bear to see. Ikonomou forces it, and us, to look. These stories give back to the world what is lost in the TV rendition of a country’s suffering. These fictions are the news, writ atomically, or cellularly, character by character, progressing one gesture and emotional tick at a time. The loss of the individuals behind any news story is a crime. Ikonomou undoes the crime by bodying forth the tragedy."

Anne Germanacos, Los Angeles Review of Books

“Piece by Piece They’re Taking My World Away” from Something Will Happen, You’ll See was featured over on Words without Borders.

Christos Ikonomou was also published in Issue 27 of Hamish Hamilton’s online journal, Five Dials. “Like People Who Hadn’t Laughed in Years” starts on page 23.

Mark Mazower has this to say about Something Will Happen, You’ll See in The Nation:

Kati tha ginei, tha deis (Something Will Happen, You’ll See) is a gripping collection of short stories published in 2010 that was awarded the State Prize for Literature and has become a bestseller. Its author, 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. Roaming restlessly through the impoverished working-class quarters located off the tourist routes in the urban sprawl between Athens and Piraeus, the large port southwest of the capital, Ikonomou’s stories convey the plight of those worst affected by the crisis—laid-off workers, hungry children. 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 neighbors, the oppression and indifference of the rich—now made infinitely worse. In Ikonomou’s concrete streets, the rain is always looming, the politicians’ slogans are ignored, and the police remain a violent, threatening presence offstage. Yet even at the edge of destitution, his men and women act for themselves, trying to preserve what little solidarity remains in a deeply atomized society, and in one way or another finding their own voice. There is faith here, deep faith—though little or none in those who habitually ask for it.

That review comes from an article that discusses how Greek economists and writers view the country’s crisis.

In a twopart article on Publishing Perspectives, Christos Ikonomou’s agent Evangelia Avlonti shares her thoughts about why so few Greek writers are translated. Also, check out her Books & The Invisible City blog to keep up on news about Ikonomou and other Greek writers.

Read “Penguins Outside the Accounting Office” from Something Will Happen, You’ll See at Specimen Magazine here.