Hercules Millas: Constantinople Greek winner of the Turkish Literature Prize

Herkül Hercules Iraklis Millas

An indigenous Greek from Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολις, Turkish: İstanbul), Hercules Millas, won the Orhan Kemal Literature Prize in Turkey.

According to the announcement of the jury, the novel by Millas, which concerns a Greek family from Constantinople who is forced to leave Turkey, narrates in a vivid and impressive way a problem that remains crucial today, that of coexistence.

Millas, who for many years has been dealing with friendship between Greeks and Turks, and with difficult issues including politics, ideology and history, focused on the human tragedy of Greeks being forced to leave Turkey.

The author successfully connects this issue with global issues, such as marginalisation, prejudice and multiculturalism.

It is noted that the committee took into account the overall work of the author, as well as his experience in the field of writing, thus making him the winner out of 55 submissions.

There were 125,000 Greeks living in Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολις, Turkish: İstanbul) at the signing of the Lausanne Treaty in 1923.

The 125,000 Greeks in Constantinople and its outlying islands were exempt from a population exchange between Greece and Turkey of their respective Christian and Muslim minorities.

However, after decades of persecution by the Turkish state, the 125,000 Greeks have been reduced to as little as 1,000, by some estimates, despite being the indigenous population of the city.

This reduction was caused by endless Turkish state repression and pressure against the indigenous Greek community.

READ MORE: Greeks begin long process of reviving destroyed Istanbul community after Turkish persecution.