Wednesday, 23 August 2017

The Maze (2004) | By Panos Karnezis

Photograph by Vana Avgerinou   
This novel offers a new interpretation of the events in the aftermath of the First World War and the Greco–Turkish War that lead to the Greek population’s expatriation from modern Turkey’s Aegean coast.

From all the ruptures between the Ottoman Empire’s various ethnicities that took place between the 1860’s and the 1920’s, this was one of the most politicised ones.

The main storyline focuses on the withdrawal of a military brigade, robbed of its dreams of a Greater Greece and isolated from the world, through Asia Minor’s desert landscapes. While describing their retreat to the sea and to rescue, Panos Karnezis takes a peek into the sweet life led by the Ottoman Empire’s countryside at the time, submerged deep into timelessness.

The novel contains very few direct references to historical events – the invasion of the Greek troops supported by Great Britain in their pursuit of a dream of a Greater Greece, which reached almost as far as Ankara, and their subsequent utter defeat. Instead, The Maze concentrates much more on the simultaneous decadence of the Empire and its relatively new opponent – nationalistic ideas.

Panos Karnezis threads lightly, even too lightly, on history – instead of facts, he influences readers with strong personages. His style contains references both to the magical realism of Márquez as well as to the naturalistic magic of Kazantzakis.

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