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First Award of Greek Academy 2013 

A young man has a friendly chat with his deceased grandmother.

An office clerk turns into a stapler.

Poet Francois Villon makes a fresh start.

Yiorgos becomes a pensioner.

Seventeen short stories on the blurred borderline between reality and its opposites; stories drawn from the mountainous mainland of Northern Greece, as well as stories on the under-aged adults of the city; stories bathing on the shores of an artificial lake.


Some of the characters in the “Joke” struggle to overcome the back-country harsh life; others struggle to face the fact that they have simply become adults. All of them attempt some kind of escape; some succeed, others don’t.

Roughly half of the book’s stories evolve in the vein of the American Dirty realism school, with an extra drop of dark humor; the rest take on a dreamlike approach reminiscent of the Magic realism style of the Latin American novelists. The Greek short story tradition, highlighting rural life, is also a rich source of inspiration.

“Joke”, awarded Best Short Story Collection of the Year (2012) by Anagnostis Magazine, is a collection of stories that reads like a bitter joke on life’s main certainty: death. 

Nefeli, 2012, 108p.

English and French extracts available


Praise for the “Joke” in the Greek Press



Extraordinary stories […] A charismatic short story writer.

Kathimerini, 19.5.2012


Mark the name; 32-year-old Palavos will grow into a prominent figure of Greek letters.

Ta Nea, 18.8.2012


A marvelous book for readers fascinated with the irrational.

Athens Voice, 8.5.2012


A spectacular showcase of talent and mastery […] Some of the collection’s stories can be easily included in every anthology of modern Greek short fiction.

Kathimerini, 1.7.2012


A by all means talented writer.

Lifo, 8.5.2012


Realism, modernism and post-modernism have been profoundly absorbed by these stories […] This is the work of a skilled and painstakingly practiced craftsman.

Anagnostis, 27.6.2013


The literary revelation of the year […] Valuable water on the dry soil of contemporary Greek prose.

Ta Nea, 15.12.2012


Stories of macabre sensitivity and grotesque reverie by a disciplined writer.

To Vima, 14.4.2012


English translator Karen Van Dyck’s note on the “Joke”:

Giannis Palavos’s collection of short stories entitled “Joke”(which is a sort of joke in itself since the name Palavos means “silly” in Greek) received a great deal of attention for its language. The easygoing narration of these seventeen stories about everyday life in Athens and other parts of Greece is telegraphed by the most economical expressions. Almost minimalist. Agricultural terms and student argot are evenly scattered through the text, as if country and city have no place being in different places anymore. American English, the language Palavos prefers to translate, with its subject-verb-object word order seems some kind of excuse for seeing what happens if one places things carefully whether an elevator in a shaft or a repeated phrase at the beginning, middle, and end of a sentence. Much the way a translation functions in its new context this collection turns Greek fiction into a reflection on the impossibility of anything purely national. We are all from elsewhere and so are our stories. But transformation and channeling don’t stop at language. Gender too is in crisis. Not since Kostas Taksis’s “Third Wedding” has Greek literature given us such a sense of how men can write women. Is it silly to have a guy writing about this girl with her period, changing her sanitary napkin in the middle of a field in some backwoods town in Greece? Is it silly if a guy expressed his maternal instinct with a pig called Maria? Yes and no. Like all of Palavos’s stories the verdict has yet to be decided. We don’t know if telling stories that are American and Greek with a bit of Europe thrown in, or are about boys who act like girls are silly or terribly serious. Just like we don’t know what to think about Greece today. What Palavos’s stories give us, though, and here there is no waiting game, is the excuse to experiment, however modestly, and let language do the work we can’t do any other way, at least not yet.

Palavos Yannis

Giannis Palavos was born in Velvento, Kozani in Greece in 1980. He studied Journalism at the Aristotle University in Thessaloniki and Arts Administration at the Panteion University in Athens. He is the author of two short story collections (“True Love and other stories”, 2007, and “Joke”, 2012) and the co-author of a graphic novel (“The Corpse”, 2011).

His short stories have won prizes from the British Council (2005, Best short story award at the British Council Young Writers’ National Contest) and Anagnostis Magazine.

His translations of Matthew Arnold, Katherine Mansfield, Edgar Lee Masters, Guillevic, Ray Bradbury, Willa Cather, Miroslav Holub, Donald Justice, Langston Hughes, Saki and Tobias Wolff have appeared in numerous Greek journals and web publications. 

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