‘The literary find of the year’—Annie Proulx
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. In Karnezis’ confident hands, a timely story of refugee arrival on a foreign shore—a prismatic exploration of the moral and emotional price those leaving their homeland must pay for peace and security—is transformed into a timeless narrative of connection and disorientation, longing and self-doubt.
With Karnezis’ trademark ‘details catching like splinters in that part of the imagination that responds to pure storytelling’ (TLS), We Are Made Of Earth 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 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.
At once timely and timeless, this powerful and absorbing novel by Panos Karnezis explores the price of peace and security through the intimate motivations and moral dilemmas of people bound together by fate and circumstance.