We are Made of Earth
This timely story of refugee arrival on a foreign shore opens when an overcrowded dinghy capsizes at sea. A doctor is among the refugees thrown overboard. In the panic, he saves one life and condemns another. The doctor and the boy he saves-the only witness to the crime-wash up on a tiny Greek island where they are offered shelter by the owner of a small travelling circus. Debt-ridden, the circus owner has just one asset: an Asian elephant, far from her natural habitat but lovingly tended by the owner’s wife even as she mourns their young daughter.
As the two refugees, man and boy, await an endlessly deferred ferry to continue their journey, the displaced elephant becomes both symbolic and substantial, and the unfortunate catalyst for precisely the kinds of misunderstandings and misinterpretations that regularly drown lives.
From the heart-in-mouth opening scene to its melancholy ending, We Are Made of Earth is a skilled blend of seductive linguistic simplicity and luminous moral depth. With Karnezis’ trademark details ‘catching like splinters in that part of the imagination that responds to pure storytelling’ (Times Literary Supplement), this is a timeless story of connection and disorientation as well as a profound comment on the emotional cost of peace and security.
The literary find of the year - Annie Proulx; 'Exploring sin, guilt and atonement, this dazzling study of displaced lives has the universalising succinctness, moral complexity and ironic force of the greatest novellas. Disaster looms in the seed of every phrase-and yet its tone is neutral, distanced, and the dark narrative is spellbinding.' The Guardian; 'Karnezis' story stirs the emotion, the anger and sadness, and empathy for refugees. He has a way of telling a story that feels grounded and flighty at the same time, not exactly surreal but just a little bit off kilter, both entertaining and hard hitting. Melancholic, loaded with pathos this is a gripping read, perhaps it is also an important one.' NB Magazine, 4/4 stars; 'Visceral, heartbreaking stuff... realistic and thoughtful.' The Observer
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