Yannis Palavos

Yannis Palavos, born in 1980 in the town of Velvendos in northern Greece, is a short story writer and translator. He studied Journalism and Arts Administration in Thessaloniki and Athens. The recipient of the Greek National Book Award (2013), Palavos is the author of three short story collections: “True Love and Other Stories| (2007), “Joke” (2012) and “The Child” (2019). He also co-penned two graphic novels, “The Corpse” (2011) and “Gra-Grou” (2017). Apart from the National Book Award, Joke received the Anagnostis Literary Journal Award, while “Gra-Grou” was awarded the Best Graphic Novel and Best Script prizes at the Greek Comics Awards. His translations include works by William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Tobias Wolff, Wallace Stegner and Breece D’J Pancake. His books have been translated into French and Bulgarian.

 More about author: 
First name:  Yiannis
Last name:  Palavos

Works: “The Child” (2019),

“Gra-Grou” (2017), “Joke” (2012),

“The Corpse” (2011),

“True Love and Other Stories” (2007)


3, Kilkis str., Galatsi, Athens, 11146, Greece

Date of birth:  1980
Birth place:  Velvendos
Abstract title:  “Maria” (from “Joke”, stories, 2012)
Abstract text: 

We call our department the Living Room. Because you can’t let the pig die like that: by the cleaver. When you weigh it, it knows. It gets anxious, squeals. It suffers. As if you were killing a human. But that’s not the reason the vets outlaw knives. It’s because the pig secretes toxins when it’s afraid. You can’t eat the meat afterwards. It’s poison.

The trucks come twice a week. We lower the animals onto the grass and bring them corn and soy feed. We leave them for a day to get used to the place. The next day we take them one by one for walks around the farm. They relax and roll around in the dirt. The next morning, when they lean over the trough to eat, an electric shock and die instantly. Then we gather up the bodies and take them to the building next door. That’s where our co-workers take over. Where they do the skinning and the butchering. I don’t see it. I work in the Living Room. My job is to make the pigs forget until they get the electric shock.

One Monday the driver came with a near empty cart.  “Don’t ask,” he said, “the pig farm caught fire.” He lit a cigarette: “Smelled like bacon for miles.” The guys laughed. “This is all I managed to round up. There’s another pig farm three hours away. That’s where we’ll get them from now on.”  We started unloading the pigs. About twenty of them. “But first the guys in charge have to agree. I’ll come with another load in ten days.”

He drove off, and we rolled up our sleeves. We herded the pigs into a corner. Among them were some little ones. They stood there sniffling. We put them out to graze by the fence. The boss called us over. He said we should keep the animals til the next lot came. Since that would take awhile, the guys in the next building asked for time off. I looked at the pigs. Lucky bastards: ten extra days.

That same afternoon the foreman got us together. Anyone from the Living Room could leave too if they wanted. Almost everyone took off. I didn’t have anywhere to go. In the end just two of us were left. We’d stay for the ten days and then take our vacation afterwards. The pigs loafed around. After the second day they were completely at home. We didn’t do anything. Just filled the troughs with corn and changed the water. My co-worker watched soccer matches half the day. He’d stocked a small fridge with beers. He drank and channel-surfed. I had found a bench and sat outside. They were beautiful days, sunny with a little breeze and the mountain across the way, green like a giant mint. I looked through a book. My nephew’s. I had found it in my jacket. Khaki-colored. He’d borrow it sometimes. And whenever he returned it, he’d stick a book in the pocket. On the cover it said
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The sun shone. Over on the side the piglets were playing, rough housing. I’d go in with a tray of slosh and they’d whoosh in like pigeons in the square.  By the fourth day I could tell them apart. My co-worker didn’t do a thing. I was the one taking care of the animals. We’d go for walks, me in front, them pushing up from behind. Like a school field trip.

One evening I put them in their pen to sleep. One little pig wouldn’t go in. It was looking at me. Its nostrils all damp. I grabbed it and put it in. The next morning it wouldn’t come out. I fed the rest and left them to run around. I went in and stood in front of it. It was a girl. One black eye and one blue.

“What’s up with you?” I asked “You don’t want a walk?” I stretched out my hand. “Come on.”

It came up to me, put its snout in my palm, and licked. It was small, just a few months old. I patted it. And then I decided to give it a name. It seemed natural. “How about Maria?” I said. It looked at me and oinked.


National Book Award (2013),

“Anagnostis” short story prize (2013),

Best Comics, Best Script Prize (Greek Comics Awards, 2018)