Little Infamies Stories

Panos Karnezis




Trade Paperback

288 Pages



Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
A New York Times Notable Book
A Los Angeles Times Best Book

Panos Karnezis's remarkable stories are all set in the same nameless Greek village. His characters are the people who live there—the priest, the whore, the doctor, the seamstress, the mayor—and the occasional animal: a centaur, a parrot that recites Homer, a horse called History. Their lives intersect, as lives do in a small place, and they know each other's secrets: the hidden crimes, the mysteries, the little infamies that all of us commit.

Karnezis observes his villagers with a worldly eye, and creates a place where magic invariably loses out to harsh reality, a place full of passion, cruelty, and deep reserves of black humor. These stories recall the masters of the form—the wit and sophisticated playfulness of Saki and the primal fatalism of Prosper Mérimée—but they are utterly original and prove that Karnezis is one of Britain's most remarkable young writers.


Praise for Little Infamies

"Downright miraculous . . . Spry and playful, sly and macabre . . . Karnezis's language is fresh, lyrical, natural . . . seducing you into its magically real and soon-to-be-spectral world."—The New York Times Book Review

"Noteworthy . . . A deft stylist: clear and direct, yet subtly ironic . . . Like many of the masters of this genre—Guy de Maupassant, Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty—Karnezis is adept at delivering one startling surprise after another."—Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times

"Fierce, twisted, darkly funny stories . . . [Karnezis] has a sharp, unsentimental eye for contemporary Greek life, while deftly adding intimations of the pagan past."—The New Yorker

"Even the lightest of [these stories] carries the weight of archetypes burned over millennia into our collective conscience, yet each is wonderfully leavened by the author's deadpan prose [and] his hair-trigger sense of timing . . . Surely the gods are smiling on Panos Karnezis."—Alix Wilber, The Seattle Times

"Earthy, playful, marvelous, the tales in Little Infamies feel time-honored and wise because Panos Karnezis achieves total authority. Like Ha Jin in Under the Red Flag, he gives us the dreams and schemes of a tiny village largely forgotten by the modern world yet ultimately subject to its whims. An amazingly assured, accomplished debut."—Stewart O’Nan, author of The Night Country and A World Away

"Karnezis main achievement here is the creation of a harsh, searing, often comic world with colorful characters and many great lines."—San Francisco Chronicle

"In his lucid and distilled prose, Panos Karnezis gives us mesmerizing tales that are combinations of fable and realism. Providing an exotic taste of Greek culture and a strong sense of place, the stories are nevertheless universal in their nuanced, humorous implications about human nature. I simply couldn't stop reading them."—Tim Gautreaux

"Confidently moving between farce, menace and tragedy, Karnezis holds a light up to the fleeing joy and ultimate futility of life."—Chris Power, The Times (London)

"Unless lightning strikes or the earth opens up beneath him, Karnezis seems likely to take his place beside the masters of Eastern European storytelling . . . No image hits the ground, no story fails to fly: the Greek imagination has found a new, dark, witty avatar."—The Independent on Sunday

"Strikingly original . . . A series of grimly comic glimpses of malaise in the manner of Maupassant or Joyce's Dubliners . . . The stories in Little Infamies are extraordinary—shocking, colourful and resonant. Panos Karnezis is an entirely individual writer in full command of his material."—Lindsay Duguid, The Sunday Times

"Nineteen debut stories reflect daily life in a Greek village over many years. Greece, first of all, is a nation of villages—from the sooty neighborhoods of Athens down to the tiny place ('so poor it doesn’t have a name') that’s the epicentre of these tales. The first-time author (a Greek engineer living in Britain) knows the brusque clannishness of his native land and conveys the rhythms and tempers of its life with a deft touch. 'Another Day on Pegasus,' for example, is told from the perspective of a bus driver: a sort of Greek Ralph Kramden who argues with his conductor, insults (or flirts with) his passengers, and manages despite the odds to keep his bus ('Pegasus') running from day to day. Greek bureaucracy is portrayed in its harshest light in 'Jeremiad,' about the unhappy fate of an old man who gets to the Pension Office late and dies in the waiting room before his claim is settled. Shadows of the classical age stretch into the present in 'Circus Attraction' and 'Cassandra is Gone,' both about the career of a centaur who becomes the star attraction of a flyblown rural circus and falls in love with the tattooed lady (who may or may not
dn0 be the original Cassandra of Agamemnon). 'A Classical Education' (a small-town clerk’s attempts to teach Homer to his parrot) has a Flaubertian tone to it, while 'Sacrifice' (a brief sketch of a father and son who slaughter a murderous cow) has a bitter intensity reminiscent of Chekhov. The finest piece, 'Immortality,' is an elegiac, almost mystical account of villagers in the early 20th century as they beg a waylaid photographer to 'make us live forever' by taking their picture. Fine and true: Karnezis breathes fresh life into traditional Greek society without mocking or sanitizing it."—Kirkus Reviews

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Panos Karnezis was born in Greece in 1967. He moved to England in 1992 to study engineering, and worked in industry before he started to write. He was awarded an M.A. in creative writing by the University of East Anglia. He lives in London.
Read the full excerpt


  • Panos Karnezis

  • Panos Karnezis was born in Greece in 1967 and worked as an engineer in Britain before receiving an M.A. in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. He lives in London.