Contemporary Greek-American authors often write about a range of topics, but there is almost always a special nod to Greece that is embedded in their works that can be felt through the page.
Some authors of Greek descent can be found on bookstore shelves and in reading nooks across the world and have beautiful, distinct messages and writing styles. Five of the most notable and influential Greek-American authors the world over are introduced below.
Most influential Greek-American authors
Any list of authors of Greek descent would be remiss if it didn’t mention Jeffrey Eugenides, who is perhaps the most well-known Greek-American author still releasing work. A Pulitzer Prize winner, Eugenides has a unique voice and writing style, and his books cover topics as varied as teenage mental health, immigration, and the decline of the American city.
Eugenides has had an extremely successful career. His first lengthy novel, The Virgin Suicides, published in 1993, was turned into a 1999 Sofia Coppola film of the same name. His second novel, Middlesex, was published in 2002 and earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2003.
Middlesex pays homage to Eugenides’ Greek roots, following an intersex man of Greek descent in modern Detroit. The first half of the book, however, has a different focus, instead following the early lives of the main character’s grandparents, who were forced to flee Asia Minor during the burning of Smyrna.
His third full-length novel, which was released in 2011, is titled The Marriage Plot. Eugenides once more acknowledges his Greek descent in the novel by making one of three main characters a Greek man from Detroit.
Panio Gianopolous is a Greek-American author who was born and raised in Massachusetts. Gianopolous, who has worked as both an author and a book editor, has so far published two books, titled A Familiar Beast, and How to Break Into Our House and Where We Keep the Money.
His first novel, A Familiar Beast, was the Amazon best book of the month and was a number one Indie book best seller. The novel follows a man named Marcus who watches as his life falls apart and accepts an invitation to visit an old classmate from high school named Edgar who is busy fighting his own demons. The pair plan a deer hunt which prompts Marcus to reevaluate his life.
His second work is a collection of nine short stories about love and dating named How to Break Into Our House and Where We Keep the Money. Although Gianopoulos is a successful author and editor in his own right, he is also well-known because of his wife, the actress Molly Ringwald. Their children all have Greek middle names, clearly a nod to Gianopoulos’ own heritage.
George Pelecanos is a prolific Greek-American author, having written more than twenty books and screenplays. Born in Washington D.C., Pelecanos often incorporates parts of his heritage into his work, which mostly falls into the genre of detective fiction.
A lot of Pelecanos’ early work revolved around a Greek Washington D.C. detective named Nick Stefanos. His first three novels were in the first person and narrated by Stefanos, but Pelecanos subsequently chose to expand his work and began to write in the third person, introducing new characters such as crime fighter named Dimitri Karras.
On top of his twenty full-length novels, Pelecanos is also a decorated screenwriter and producer. Frequently collaborating with David Simon, a director and television writer, Pelecanos has written multiple episodes of Simon’s HBO series The Wire. Over the course of his long and successful career, he has also won a long list of accolades, including a Writers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Dramatic Series.
Arianna Huffington’s last name may sound familiar, undoubtedly because she is one of the co-founders of the news media giant, and the former editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post. She is also an author of multiple best-selling books, and many of her fifteen credited titles evoke Greek themes.
Some of her non-fiction novels include Maria Callas: The Woman Behind the Legend and The Gods of Greece. Huffington grew up in Greece before moving to the UK at the age of sixteen and attending the University of Cambridge, studying economics.
Huffington is almost certainly the most influential Greek woman in media currently and has now moved on from HuffPost, which was sold to BuzzFeed. She has started a new business which provides behavior change technology called Thrive Global, and her latest book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder was an instant international bestseller.
Harry Mark Petrakis
Harry Mark Petrakis was born in Missouri, the son of Greek immigrants to the United States. Petrakis, whose Greek name was Charalambos, had a long and successful career, publishing upwards of twenty novels throughout his lifetime before his passing in February 2021.
Many of Petrakis’ books centered on residents of Chicago’s Greektown, where he personally grew up. He was still producing works regularly as recently as 2015 and has a very varied bibliography, having authored fiction books, short story anthologies, and non-fiction works. His final book was a full-length autobiography titled Song of my Life, which was published when Petrakis was 91 years old.
In 1966, the Greek-American author became an international success with the publishing of his novel A Dream of Kings, which won him a nomination for the National Book Award for Fiction for the second year in a row. A Dream of Kings was on The New York Times Best Seller list for twelve weeks, translated into twelve languages, and made into a Hollywood film of the same name.