Bakopoulos, Dean 1975–
Bakopoulos, Dean 1975–
PERSONAL: Born July 6, 1975, in Dearborn Heights, MI; son of a Ukrainian mother and Greek father; married Amanda Okopski (an artist and Web designer). Education: University of Michigan, B.A., 1997; University of Wisconsin, MFA.
ADDRESSES: Office—Wisconsin Humanities Council, 222 S. Bedford St., Ste. F, Madison, WI 53703-3688. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Writer. Wisconsin Humanities Council, Madison, executive director. Canterbury Booksellers, Madison, buyer.
AWARDS, HONORS: Tennessee Williams scholar at Sewanee Writers' Conference; National Endowment for the Arts fellowship; 100 Notable Books of 2005 citation, New York Times, for Please Don't Come Back from the Moon.
Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, Harcourt (Orlando, FL), 2005.
Contributor of short stories to periodicals, including Virginia Quarterly Review, Wisconsin Academy Review, Believer, and Zoetrope All-Story.
SIDELIGHTS: Dean Bakopoulos grew up as the child of immigrants in Livonia, Michigan, and wrote his first short story at the age of seven. He studied writing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and then moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he spent four years working as a buyer for a local bookstore, and wrote and published several short stories.
Bakopoulos originally published Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, his first novel, as a long short story in Zoetrope in 2001. The story begins in the early 1990s in a fictional suburb of Detroit, an area in which many Ukrainian-Polish-Greek immigrants settled. The region has lost its manufacturing jobs and the economy is depressed. The men of the community gradually wander away and abandon their families; the story's title comes from a note that one father leaves, announcing that he is going to the moon. The children and wives left behind must come to terms with the absence of their men. The teenage boys who are adolescents at the beginning of the book spend the next decade finding ways of living on their own and hope to prosper as their fathers could not.
The novel sold almost immediately after Bakopoulos finished writing it, and it received ample critical acclaim. Elissa Schappell, reviewing the book for the New York Times Book Review, praised Bakopoulos for his restraint and refusal to blame the fathers for the problems of their families; she observed that "what could have been just another whiny, blaming, prototypical parents-they-mess-you-up-style novel is instead something far more haunting and interesting." The disappearance of the fathers turns into an affirmation of choice and freedom for the sons left behind; their fathers could choose their destiny, and so could they. Bakopoulos intended his work to be a eulogy for the working-class men of his father's generation, and his attention to their disappointments and the modest hopes of their sons touched many reviewers.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2004, Michele Leber, review of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, p. 551.
Children's Bookwatch, February, 2005, review of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon.
Economist, February 12, 2005, review of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, p. 83.
Entertainment Weekly, February 11, 2005, Thom Geier, review of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, p. 69.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2004, review of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, p. 1019.
Library Journal, November 15, 2004, Jim Coan, review of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, p. 49.
New York Times Book Review, February 13, 2005, Elissa Schappell, "Dark Side of the Moon," review of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, p. 11.
O, February, 2005, Elaina Richardson, "The Mysteries of Men," review of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon.
People, February 28, 2005, Allison Lynn, review of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, p. 60.
Publishers Weekly, November 15, 2004, review of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, p. 37.
Curled Up with a Good Book, http://www.curledup.com/ (January 4, 2006), review of Please Don't Come Back from the Moon.
Dean Bakopoulos Home Page, http://www.deanbakopoulos.com (January 4, 2006).