A brilliant Homeric fable in miniature for our times - a lyrical and surprising reworking of the story of the Trojan war by an acclaimed international writer.
David Malouf is the internationally acclaimed author of novels including The Great World (winner of the Commonwealth Writers' prize and the Prix Femina Etranger), Remembering Babylon (shortlisted for the Booker Prize and winner of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award), An Imaginary Life, Conversations at Curlow Creek and his autobiographical classic 12 Edmondstone Street. His Collected Stories won the 2008 Australia-Asia Literary Award, and his story collections are Dream Stuff and Every Move You Make where met with critical acclaim. In 2008 Malouf was the Scottish Arts' Council Muriel Spark International Fellow. Born in 1934 in Brisbane, he now lives in Sydney.
What is the essence of good, old-fashioned storytelling? War, revenge, honour and humility? The ability to recognise or be enlightened by some essence of truth, some essence of life in the characters? David Malouf s Ransom is a classic story, told in a controlled, yet flowing and descriptive style. It follows Achilles vengeful killing of Hector, and the subsequent days where he dishonours the body, literally dragging it through the dirt before the city of Troy. Priam, King of Troy and father of Hector, comes to a decision to enter into chance against the gods, and sheds his royal accoutrements to confront Achilles, as a man and a father, to request the body of his son. The main part of the book takes place on Priams journey with a common carter who has been hired for the trip. The King and the carter are two ageing men, and the common man inspires an openness and curiosity in the King. In some places, descriptions of Priam are reminiscent of King Lear, in his reversions to childlike innocence, and his rash instinctual decisions. The centre of the book is philosophical, moving, and hard to shake from the senses. Recurring Malouf themes of masculine roles and ways of relating between classes are present- including an observation of intimate versus reserved fatherhoods. There is also the notion of chance versus the divine hand, and related to this, deaths inevitability, along with birth and other renewals. In Priams recognitions of small things, like the trickling stream around his feet, or the curiosity sparked in him by the common mans description of his daughterin- law, we recognise our own smallness and common ground with others, even our enemies. This book soon enveloped me, yet I think it will be difficult to push to the general public. Hopefully Malouf s name and the ambiguous cover will intrigue, as there has to be a place for stylised stories like this. In fact, fiction and truth, history, myth and memory are all themes which emerge in this slim book. If someone has a strong interest in classic literature, history, or is even drawn to fantasy novels (often built up from myth and history, and notions of honour) they will probably treasure this, as will anyone who enjoys literature on a sentence-level. Malouf s rendering of Ancient Greece is gorgeous, fantastical, and yet earthly, humble, and relatable. I strongly hope Ransom finds an audience. Angela Meyer is a writer, blogger, and Bookseller+Publisher s editorial assistant
A marvel - beautifully written, surprisingly moving... rather
brilliant * Daily Mail *
A wonderful retelling of the encounter between Achilles and the Trojan King Priam in prose that's so good you want to eat it -- Mariella Frostrup * Observer *
A rich, moving and sometimes disturbing novel * Scotsman *
David Malouf writes with the voice of a poet; his graceful fiction deals in truth and is always beautiful... This is a book that will engage and inspire... In writing this novel Malouf is honouring a great work and also making his own * Irish Times *
In bringing something radically new, yet sensitively overlaid, to an already powerful epic, Malouf proves that an "untold tale" can be every bit as rewarding as its ancient original -- Philip Parker * Financial Times *