Also By This Author
“At once a very Australian dream and a universal one, the dream of exotic, talismanic places beyond the horizon. . . . [Gilgamesh is] a pleasure to read, [London’s] prose a seamlessly shifting blend of poetry, pathos and humor.” Elizabeth Ward, The Washington Post
978-0-8021-4121-7 • $14.95 • Paperback • June 2004
The American debut from one of Australia’s most acclaimed writers, Gilgamesh is a bewitching saga of family, lost love, and the power of storytelling
It is 1937. The modern world, they say, is waiting to erupt. On a tiny farm in far southwestern Australia, seventeen-year-old Edith lives with her mother and her sister, Frances. One afternoon two men, her English cousin Leopold and his Armenian friend Aram, arrive, taking the long way home from an archaeological dig in Iraq.
Leopold and Aram captivate Edith with tales of exotic lands and culturesamong them, the story of Gilgamesh, the legendary king of Uruk in ancient Mesopotamia. Gilgamesh’s great journey of mourning after the death of his friend Enkidu, and his search for the secret of eternal life, is to resonate throughout Edith’s years. She is captivated by their stories, and by the thought of a world far beyond the narrow horizon of her small town of Nunderup.
Two years later, in 1939, Edith and her young son, Jim, set off on a journey of their own, to Soviet Armenia, where they are trapped by the outbreak of war. This is the story of encounters and escapes, of friendship and love, of loss and acceptance. Beautifully marrying the intimate scope of a life with the enormity of war, Gilgamesh examines what happens when we strike out into the world, and how, like the wandering king, we find our way home.
Rich, spare, and evocative, Gilgamesh won The Age Book of the Year Award for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award alongside Richard Flanagan’s Gould’s Book of Fish and Tim Winton’s Dirt Music. As Cathleen Medwick wrote in O: The Oprah Magazine, “Bold and beautiful . . . [An] astonishing saga . . . A woman as epic hero? It’s high time.”