Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Harry Mark Petrakis  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: June 5, 1923 in St. Louis, Missouri

Died: February 2, 2021 in Chesterton, Indiana

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Illinois Connection

When Petrakis was six months old, his family moved to Washington Park neighborhood in Chicago's South Side. He also lived in Woodlawn and South Shore.

Biographical and Professional Information

Harry Mark Petrakis published his first story, "Pericles on 31st Street" in the Atlantic Monthly in 1957. His most notable work, "A Dream of Kings," the tale of the larger-than-life Matsoukas who sacrifices everything, even his principles, in an effort to save his ailing son, was published in 1966. It was published in twelve foreign editions and was made into a motion picture in 1969 starring Anthony Quinn. In all, he wrote 24 books consisting of fiction, essays, and nonfiction.


Days of Vengeance

Carl Sandburg Award, Friends of the Chicago Public Library, 1983

Pericles on 31st Street

Finalist in Fiction, National Book Award, 1966

A Dream of Kings

New York Times Bestseller, 1966

Finalist in Fiction, National Book Award, 1967

Other Awards and Honors

Atlantic First Award, 1957

Benjamin Franklin Citation, 1957

Friends of American Writers Award, 1964

Friends of Literature Award, 1964

Society of Midland Authors Award, 1964

O. Henry Award - for his short story The Prison, available in the anthology Prize Stories, 1966

Writer-in-Residence, Chicago Public Library, 1976-1977

Writer-in-Residence, Chicago Board of Education, 1978

Carl Sandburg Award, Chicago Public Library, 1983 - Lifetime achievement award given to a Chicago author

Gabby Award for Arts & Culture, 2009

Nikos Kazantzakis Award for the Arts, Pancretan Association, 2013

Fuller Award for Lifetime Achievement, Chicago Literary Hall of Fame, 2014

Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters, American College of Greece

Honorary Doctorate, Hellenic College

Honorary Doctorate, University of Illinois

Honorary Doctorate, Indiana University Northwest

Honorary Doctorate, Roosevelt University

Honorary Doctorate, Governors State University

Selected Titles At Your Library

A dream of kings :
ISBN: 9781611175356. OCLC Number: 893455768

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At the heart of A Dream of Kings is Leonidas Matsoukas, operator of the Pindar Counseling Service (Solutions provided for all problems of life and love), proponent of wildly creative get-rich-quick schemes, passionately loving husband and father, equally ardent lover of the beautiful bakeshop proprietor Anthoula, incurable gambler, and incorrigible fighter. Matsoukas is a fiercely proud Greek immigrant with a zest for the temptations of his new home on Halsted Street in 1960s Chicago. He dreams of conquering the city but the tragic illness of his young son Stavros pits him against the larger opponent of fate. By turns comic and heartbreaking, A Dream of Kings combines the power of classical myth--a man raging against the gods--with the vitality, emotion, and joyous ebb and flow of our all-too-human lives. The gods have chosen you for eternal disaster, Matsoukas's friend Cicero tells him, but you take every act that has been prepared for your punishment and turn it into some kind of triumph. A Dream of Kings was first published in 1966. It was a New York Times best seller, translated into twelve languages, and made into a 1969 feature film starring Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas. This new edition includes a foreword from Dan Georgakas, retired director of the Greek American Studies Project at the Center for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies at Queens College-CUNY and editor of the Journal of Hellenic Diaspora--

A Petrakis reader /
ISBN: 0385134215. OCLC Number: 3631380

Doubleday,. .

Cavafy's stone and other village tales /
ISBN: 0978967658. OCLC Number: 681498427

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These linked stories, in which the inhabitants of the village of Fanaron in central Greece spin their tangles tales of love, hate, vengeance, and despair, create a microcosm of the world.

Collected stories
ISBN: 0595378439. OCLC Number: 255018959 .

Days of vengeance :
ISBN: 0941702537. OCLC Number: 40423884

Lake View Press,. .

Ghost of the sun :
ISBN: 0312043198. OCLC Number: 20824780

St. Martin's Press,. .

In the Land of Morning.
ISBN: 9780595446049. OCLC Number: 154755695

Gardners Books,. .

Journal of a novel /
ISBN: 1470130734. OCLC Number: 878079105

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Legends of glory and other stories /
ISBN: 0809327589. OCLC Number: 70841622

Southern Illinois University Press,. .

Lion at My Heart
ISBN: B0012GA8AI. OCLC Number:

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Nick the Greek
ISBN: 0385049099. OCLC Number: 5287299

Doubleday,. .

Pericles on 31st street
ISBN: 9780616758137. OCLC Number: 1011734652

CNIB,. .

A Greek American neighbouhood in New York City is the setting for 16 short stories. Humour, sentiment, and love are the basic themes. 1967.

Reflections :
ISBN: 0941702049. OCLC Number: 10354873

. .

"In Reflections, a distinguished novelist reveals personal aspects of his life and work. The complex relationship between writing and living is clearly drawn, and we see at work here the process by which a writer turns his raw experiences into art"--Jacket.

Song of my life :
ISBN: 9781611175028. OCLC Number: 894227592

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With the discipline of a surgeon performing a critical operation, acclaimed storyteller Harry Mark Petrakis strips away layers of his nine decades of life to expose the blood and bone of a human being in his third memoir and twenty-fifth book, Song of My Life. Petrakis is unsparing in exposing his own flaws, from a youthful gambling addiction, to the enormous lie of his military draft, to a midlife suicidal depression. Yet he is compassionate in depicting the foibles of others around him. Petrakis writes with love about his parents and five siblings, with nostalgia as he describes the Greek neighborhoods and cramped Chicago apartments of his childhood, and with deep affection for his wife and sons as he recalls with candor, comedy, and charity a writer's long, fully-lived life. Petrakis recounts the near-fatal childhood illness, which confined him to bed for two years and, through hours of reading during the day and night, nurtured his imagination and compulsion toward storytelling. A high school dropout, Petrakis also recalls his work journey in the steel mills, railroad depots, and shabby diners of the city. There is farce and comedy in the pages as he describes the intricate framework of lies that drove his courtship of Diana, who has been his wife of sixty-nine loving years. Petrakis shares his struggles for over a decade to write and publish and finally, poignantly describes the matchless instant when he holds his first published book in his hands. The chapters on his experiences in Hollywood where he had gone to write the screenplay of his best-selling novel A Dream of Kings are as revealing of the machinations and egos of moviemaking as any Oliver Stone documentary. Petrakis's individual story, as fraught with drama and revelation as the adventures of Odysseus, comes to an elegiac conclusion when, at the age of ninety, he ruminates on his life and its approaching end. With a profound and searing honesty, this self-exploration of a solitary writer's life helps us understand our own existences and the tapestry of lives connecting us together in our shared human journey.--

Stelmark: A Family Recollection
ISBN: B0006CPK0C. OCLC Number:

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Tales of the heart :
ISBN: 1566632439. OCLC Number: 40269548

Ivan R. Dee,. .

The Founder's Touch: The Life of Paul Galvin of Motorola
ISBN: B00005VYMW. OCLC Number:

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The hour of the bell /
ISBN: 0809328623. OCLC Number: 214286028

Southern Illinois University Press,. .

The odyssey of Kostas Volakis /
ISBN: 0595007600. OCLC Number: 48204748, Inc.,. .

The orchards of Ithaca /
ISBN: 0809325780. OCLC Number: 56367399

Southern Illinois University Press,. .

"Friend and host to the pantheon of Chicago political and sports celebrities, from Ditka to Daley, Jordan to Kup, Orestes is a respected member of his Halsted Street neighborhood. Unbeknownst to his peers, he privately wars with the consequences of a near-fatal childhood illness and the insecurities foisted upon him by his late, brutal father. Orestes finds security and comfort in his twenty-three-year marriage to the loving Dessie, without knowing that she harbors stark secrets of her own. Oblivious to these unvoiced burdens of their parents are the Panos children: a son forced into a hasty wedlock when he impregnated a mafioso?s daughter, and a teenaged daughter who seeks salvation in designer fashions. Orestes must also endure the barbs of his shrewish mother-in-law, an avid Tom Selleck admirer who openly scorns her son-in-law for lacking the machismo of her screen idol"--Publisher description.

The shepherds of shadows /
ISBN: 0809328631. OCLC Number: 213408659

Southern Illinois University Press,. .

"Thirty-one years after Harry Mark Petrakis wrote the historical novel The Hour of the Bell - set in the first year of Greece's war of independence from the Turkish Empire - he now carries the narrative forward in his newest work, The Shepherds of Shadows. With this sequel, Petrakis captures the fury and ferocity of revolution in the country that formed the bedrock of Western culture." "Featuring many of the characters who appeared in the earlier book, The Shepherds of Shadows depicts the horrors of war in battle scenes that echo the visceral starkness of conflict found in Homer's Iliad. The novel also includes a vivid portrayal of Lord Byron, who, through his poetry, supported the cause of Greece's fight for independence, inspiring the world to provide aid and volunteers for the struggle. Byron himself traveled to Greece to join the war for liberation." "Woven through the tapestry of war are stories of the love of a young guerilla fighter for a Greek girl and her child, born of a brutal rape, as well as the love of the scribe, Xanthos, for a village woman widowed by the war. There are lyrical descriptions of a village wedding and of the rituals of a village funeral. And always there is the mystical, overpowering presence of the Greek landscape and its majestic past blending reality and myth."--Jacket.

Twilight of the ice /
ISBN: 0809325063. OCLC Number: 50604828

Southern Illinois University Press,. .

The newest novel from acclaimed storyteller Harry Mark Petrakis, Twilight of the Ice is a dramatic tale of revelation and redemption set against the backdrop of the 1950s Chicago rail yards. In a classic yarn expertly balancing the realistic with the mythic, Petrakis chronicles the life of Mike Zervakis, a Greek immigrant and the last in the line of the strong, skilled railroad car icemen, in a profession becoming obsolete with the advent of modern refrigeration. After fleeing from the despotic Turkish occupation of his homeland of Crete, and then escaping from boyhood servitude in his uncle s shabby Chicago lunchroom, Mike at last finds his calling in the craft of the ice at the Team Track, the desolate ice depot in the heart of industrial Chicago. Here, under the oppressive rule of brutal foreman Earl, and bolstered by the camaraderie of alcoholic former schoolteacher Rafer Martin, Mike carves out his fate. Mike s icing world is populated by a rough crew of old-timers and rookies, including the stoic Polish icemen Budny and Orchowski, the buoyant and reckless Noodles, the brooding war veteran Stamps, and Mike s young helper and surrogate son, Mendoza. This harsh world is also home to Mike s beloved, the prostitute Reba; Rafer s temptation incarnate, the fragile Leota; and the old iceman-turned-preacher, Israel, a man plagued with apocalyptic visions of a second ice age in which mankind s salvation would depend upon the chosen icemen. Beset by age and a failing body, Mike yearns to find his heir, someone to whom he can pass his skill and his devotion to the craft. After finding only cold indifference among the young summer workers, he finally is introduced to the powerful young giant, S.K., a born iceman. But when S.K. carelessly causes the death of an icing veteran, old hatreds surface and Mike s dream of a successor seems doomed. All that remains for the master iceman is a final savage struggle against his exacting taskmaster, Earl, and an even more relentless foe, the twilight of his own life.

Waves of Night and Other Stories

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