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The Maze Hardcover – March 15, 2004

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My Struggle: Book Four
Eighteen-year-old Karl Ove moves to a tiny fishing village in the Arctic Circle to work as a school teacher. As the nights get longer, the shadow cast by his father's own sharply increasing alcohol consumption, also gets longer. Read the full description
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Karnezis's intelligent, lyrical first novel is a worthy follow-up to Little Infamies(2002), his darkly comic story collection set in a nameless Greek village. The novel takes place in 1922, after the Greek army's three-year "expedition" into Asia Minor abruptly ends in a rout by Turkish forces. A Greek brigade under the command of a morphine-addled old brigadier is retreating in disarray across the desert. Hopelessly lost, the tattered band marches in circles through the pitiless terrain, dragging its wounded and its ghosts along behind it. But just as the soldiers' hope-and the reader's tolerance for abject misery-runs out, they stumble across an isolated town unscathed by the war. It is here, in his grimly humorous and richly layered portrait of human frailty, that Karnezis shines. As in his short stories, he revels in the raucous human dramas of the residents' intertwining lives without romanticizing their antics. But the soldiers are still haunted by years of casual brutality and one collective act of unimaginable savagery. With their arrival, a creeping, toxic modernity is unleashed in the town. Virtue and humanity are increasingly regarded as unpredictable liabilities, and by the time the brigade pulls out, there's no one left in town who'd deny that it's "often healthier for the soul to believe a lie than to search for the truth.'" Despite a sluggish start, the novel is a grimly funny, subversive allegory of 20th-century history, in which the punishments for dreaming, loving or believing too fervently are swift and severe.
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From The New Yorker

Karnezis, a Greek writing in English, has taken for the subject of his first novel the end of Greece's disastrous Asia Minor campaign. It is 1922, and the Greek soldiers, beset by petty larceny, red mud, and rats, are in headlong retreat, struggling to make it back to the motherland. The colorful cast includes a morphine-addicted commanding officer, a mad priest, and a guilt-ridden courtesan, and Karnezis tries hard to charm us with antic incidents and delicate shades of prose. But he seems unequal to the sterner exigencies of war, and his attempted parallels with Greece's great heritage (the commanding officer finds solace in a compendium of Greek myths) are drained of all subtlety by footnotes elucidating mythological figures as familiar as King Midas and the Furies.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (March 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374204802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374204808
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,578,941 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on April 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
At the end of the Greco-Turkish War, one Greek brigade wanders lost in the Anatolian desert. Led by Brigadier Nestor, the soldiers hope they are marching toward the sea and the end of their disastrous tour of duty. The war is over, but the men in Panos Karnezis's debut novel, THE MAZE, must battle on.
Brigadier Nestor, an aging career soldier still devastated by his wife's death a year earlier, has become addicted to morphine and Greek mythology. His second-in-command, Chief of Staff Major Porfirio, while appearing to be a model soldier, is keeping a treasonous secret. The company priest, Father Simeon, imagines himself the Apostle of All Anatolians, but in fact is just a thief. And the rest of the brigade is not fairing too well either. Subsisting almost entirely on cornmeal, their morale is low and things are growing stranger the longer they wander.
It seems though that the luck of the brigade is finally changing. First, a Greek pilot crashes from the sky bringing hope that perhaps they are being searched for. Then, following a runaway horse, they come across a quiet village virtually untouched by the war. The inhabitants and tales of the village are just as interesting and complicated as those of the brigade. The mayor is about to marry the madame of the brothel, the church is overrun with rats and the Turkish Muslim quarter is surrounded by an open sewer. This village does not offer the comforts the brigade had longed for. Brigadier Nestor still hopes to lead the men to the sea and escape, and the mayor knows the way. But before they can leave they must all contend with a desperate war correspondent and one final act of violence that permanently scars the village.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By JP on April 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed the maze, so much I even contemplated giving it 5 stars instead of 4. It is a beautifully written book, very descriptive and pretty straight on the mark with its history.

My only qualm with the book is that Greek names were not used for the Greek army stuck in Asia Minor, which I found quite odd...and it gets off to a slow start till the army enters the town. At times I thought are they going to wander the desert forever?

Overall I would completely recommend this book, especially to any fans of historic fiction.
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By keetmom on September 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Panos Karnezis' chief quality as a writer is his keen eye for critical detail. In a few well chosen sentences, he creates powerful characters and moods. This skill is especially important in The Maze where the people he writes about are displaced and disorientated. The feeling of abandonment is tangible throughout this book and well it might be. The first group of characters we are introduced to are a battalion of the defeated Greek Army wandering around inhospitable Anatolia, desperate to find the sea and make their way home. Individually and collectively this group of broken men carry huge burdens of loss, betrayal and remorse. Unexpectedly they find themselves in a small village that has been cut off from the rest of the world for the duration of the war (1919 - 1922). The villagers are divided between the silent, watchful Turks and the more prosperous (mostly) Greek settlers who too are burdened by failure and disappointment. As the village is battered by freakish displays of nature's power, the final scenes are played out. Classical and mythological allusions are woven into the story throughout and in the tradition of grand tragedy, the players finally shuffle off Karnezis' stage and we are left to ponder mankind's impotence in the face of war and retribution that we seem eternally doomed to wage against each other.
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By John Fitzpatrick on September 21, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a lively novel about a brigade of Greek soldiers trying to return to their homeland following the defeat by the Turks of an expeditionary force sent to Anatolia in 1922.

Their journey is seen through the eyes of half a dozen main characters, including the brigadier in charge, a senior staff officer, a priest and a prostitute.

All of them are trying to escape physically and mentally from the misfortunes that have marked their lives.

The book takes the ragged remains of the brigade across the wilds of Anatolia towards a town and from there to the sea.

It deliberately echoes Greek mythology and history, with reminders of the Odyssey and the Anabasis by Xenophon.

However, the style is more William Boyd (The Ice Cream War) or Evelyn Waugh (Scoop and the Sword of Honour Trilogy) and it is both funny and sad at the same time.

It is also a timely reminder of how the spread of Islam changed forever a part of the world that had been Christian for almost 2,000 years.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By An admirer of Saul on September 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
Set during the 1919-22 Greek-Ottoman war in Asia Minor, the story follows the retreat of a defeated Greek battalion accross the Anatolian desert to the sea and their brief but profoundly changing occupation of a small town previously isolated from the war.
The book is semi comic semi tragic in style, and Karnezis builds up each character (including a dog and a bathtub!) with histories that-although amusing-tend to pad out the thin plot rather than add to it. This makes for enjoyable reading,but ultimately 'The Maze' falls short of being really satisfying.
It has been feted as a fable on how war corrupts and changes everything in its path,but in reality never it never really moves away from being anything other than a good story.But if you want heavy reading, there's plenty to be found,so enjoy this for what it is !
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