Wednesday, December 7, 2016

MGSA Honors Harry Mark Petrakis (2007)

In a writing career spanning more than half a century, Harry Mark Petrakis (b. 1923) has produced 20 novels, numerous short story collections, scores of essays and non-fictional books, including autobiography. His most famous works include the novels Days of Vengeance, A Dream of Kings, and The Hour of the Bell, among others.
Petrakis is a realist writer who does not hesitate to probe all aspects of immigrant humanity. He explores compassion and faith but also undisciplined passions, moral flaws, and ethnocentrism. Spousal abuse and domestic violence are not absent from his stories. While women struggle to negotiate the traditions that confine them, they are seen, at the same time, as possessing sensual and domestic power.
Petrakis' characters are flawed yet emotionally and morally complex. Because they are portrayed in their full humanity, they challenge the positive stereotype of "model" ethnicity. His emphasis on their humanity is the reason why he has touched a sensitive nerve among some Greek Americans. As Charles Moskos writes, "Although Petrakis has received literary awards and recognition, his writings have also raised the ire of some touchy Greek Americans who felt they were maligned as a group."

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