Mazy business

13 10 2009

The Maze by Panos Karnezis


A really well written (and translated) novel following the mazy journey of a lost Greek brigade towards the coast and salvation:

Set in Anatolia in 1922, a Greek expedition, lost in the desert, bickers among itself and blunders forwards toward the coast. Brigadier Nestor is as addicted to morphia as he is to Greek myths; Father Simeon is as disappointed in himself as he is passionately sincere in his religion; and the Bolshevik Major Porfirio, who has failed in his attempt to win any men to his cause, save for his colonel, are each wonderful creations.

Lying in the recent memory of all these men is a massacre of Turkish civilians carried out by the brigade, which weighs on them heavily. Coming across a town the brigade settles in for a few days. Here Nestor can investigate fully the recent thefts that have plagued him and try to work out who is behind the communist propaganda circulating the camp. As readers we are given the opportunity to meet, among others, Mr Othon, the schoolmaster, the foolish Mayor and his fiancé, the town’s beautiful and exotic prostitute Madame Violetta, her maid Annina and her lover Yusuf the gardener.

Really excellent characterisation here, particularly the Brigadier, his chief of staff and the Padre, but having set the scene extremely well in the first two thirds of the book the later sections feel somewhat underdeveloped and rushed. Bit of a missed opportunity perhaps but nevertheless a good read.

3 star

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