Manos Kontoleon was born in 1946 in Athens, where he studied Physics at the university. His interest in literature and writing already began in his childhood and includes all forms of prose. Today he is considered to be one of the most productive and renowned Greek writers for his work as a journalist in various print media, as well as for radio and television; as a translator of foreign-language children’s books as well as the author of many literary works for adults, children and young adults. He has published over fifty books to date. He has been involved for many years at an institutional level as a mediator for literature and literary mediation and is Vice President of the Greek UNICEF National Committee, as well as being a former board member of the Greek National Book Centre, the Greek Writers’ Guild and the Greek section of the IBBY.
His first fairytale book for children was »Kapote stin Pontikoupoli« (1979, tr: Once in Mouse Town), which was followed by many other titles, including »O adelfos tis Aspassias« (1993; tr: Aspassia’s Brother), which is told in diary-form from the perspective of a ten-year-old. The book is about the hardships of the boy’s family life with a self-proclaimed omniscient older sister, a father who, in his son’s opinion, gives in too much to the women in the family, and, like hand-me-down carnival costumes, the embarrassments inherent in family traditions. In addition to his work for adults, Manos Kontoleon has also had an influence on the Greek book market with his thematically and narratively diverse books for young adults. He takes as his themes the social, familial and also political aspects of contemporary society, and brings to them new literary-aesthetic forms in the language and the narrative structures. His most recent young work, »Anishiros angelos« (2010; tr: Powerless Angel) is a fictionalised treatment of the events surrounding the shooting of the 15-year-old Andreas-Alexandros Grigoropoulos by a policeman in 2008 and the ensuing social unrest in Greece. He makes use of several levels of the narrative to provide differing perspectives on the events. The policeman’s fictitious daughter, for example, tells how she met the boy in the train shortly before his death, and how this encounter and the following events continue to haunt her. Kontoleon’s discussion of the question of guilt is subtly conducted between the lines.
The author has received several prizes for his books, including the Greek State Prize for Literature in 2008 and a nomination for the Hans-Christian-Andersen-Prize in 2002. Manos Kontoleon lives in Athens.
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