‘Visceral, heartbreaking stuff… realistic and thoughtful.’—The Observer
With Karnezis’ trademark ‘details catching like splinters in that part of the imagination that responds to pure storytelling’ (Times Literary Supplement), 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. This is a timeless story of connection and disorientation, longing and self-doubt, as well as a profound comment on the emotional cost of peace and security.