Synopses & Reviews
In his first novel in more than a decade, David Malouf — arguably Australia's greatest living writer — gives us a stirring reimagination of one of the most famous passages in all of literature: Achilles' rageful slaughter and desecration of Hector, and Priam's attempt to ransom his son's body in Homer's The Iliad
A moving novel of suffering, sorrow and redemption, Ransom tells the story of the relationship between two grieving men at war: fierce Achilles, who has lost his beloved Patroclus in the siege of Troy; and woeful Priam, whose son Hector killed Patroclus and was in turn savaged by Achilles. Each man's grief must confront the other's for surcease and resolution: a resolution more compelling to both than the demands of war. For when the wizened father and the vicious murderer of his son meet, the past and present blend, enemies exchange places, hatred turns to understanding, youth pities age mourning youth.
Ransom is a tour de force, incandescent in its delicate and powerful lyricism and its unstated imperative that we imagine our lives in the glow of fellow feeling.
"Revisiting scenes from The Iliad and delving into the hearts of two ancient heroes, Malouf (Remembering Babylon) evokes the final days of the Trojan War with cinematic vividness. After Achilles withdraws his forces from combat, a move that cripples the Greek army, his best friend, Patroclus, persuades Achilles to let him take the Myrmidons back into combat and to wear Achilles' armor. After Trojan king Priam's beloved son, Hector, kills Patroclus, guilt, rage and grief drives Achilles on a frenzied quest for revenge that sees him slay Hector and then tie Hector's corpse to his chariot and drag it around the besieged city. Priam, desperate to stop the desecration, decides to visit the enemy camp and offer money in exchange for Hector's body. He hires a humble cart driver and, aided by Hermes, they set out on a journey that takes Priam into the unknown and toward a meeting with Achilles. Though Malouf's sparingly deployed details, vigorous language and sly wit humanizes these tragic heroes, the story is unmistakably epic and certainly the stuff of legend." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Malouf may fairly be called Australia's greatest novelist, and the reasons why are all here, in an economical package — the penetration of his mind into hearts and motivations; the limpid, lucid prose; the bracing immediacy of the story, the art of his artlessness. A simple tale, cobbled from a few lines of an ancient text, but Malouf brings Achilles and Priam and the wagon driver to turbulent life: Achilles escaping the prison of his grief and rage, Priam escaping the prison of his regal dignity, Somax the driver itching to get back to the city with some gift for his toddler granddaughter. A remarkable feat." Brian Doyle, The Oregonian
(read the entire Oregonian review
A tale of suffering, sorrow, and redemption, Ransom is a retelling of one of the most famous stories in all of literature — Achilles's slaughter and desecration of Hector, and Priam's attempt to ransom his son's body in Homer's The Iliad.
About the Author
David Malouf—winner of the inaugural Australia-Asia Literary Award, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Prix Femina Étranger and the Los Angeles Times Book Award—is the author of, among other works, Remembering Babylon, An Imaginary Life andThe Conversations at Curlow Creek. He lives in Australia.