October 12th, 2015
I’ve finally finished relocating from Cambridge back to the Philadelphia-area. It was very sad to leave behind the fabulous Independent bookstores of Cambridge, especially Porter Square books, which for the past several years has been my bookstore home-away-from-home. If you’re ever in the Cambridge area, you should definitely drop by and say hello! But I’m excited to develop new relationships with the Indie bookstores around Philadelphia, including the very lovely people at Main Point Books in Bryn Mawr and Headhouse Books in the city.
Speaking of which, Main Point Books has very kindly invited me to join their Book Club discussion of The Song of Achilles this Wednesday, October 14th, at 7PM. I’ll be there to answer questions, speak with readers and sign books. I’m looking forward to it! Main Point Books and I are also going to set up a continuation of my arrangement with Porter Square Books–so if you’re interested in getting a copy of The Song of Achilles personalized by me, please get in touch with them. As we firm things up, I’ll post here with more details and easy links.
Another bit of exciting news: the Bailey’s Prize (formerly the Orange Prize) is hosting a celebration of their last ten years, called Best of the Best, and I’m thrilled that The Song of Achilles is a part of that. I’m so grateful to the Orange Prize for the opportunities they’ve opened for me personally, but more significantly, I’m grateful for the work they do to bring attention to women writers across the world. In fact, I wrote an essay about it.
Finally, I couldn’t close without mentioning that my fabulous US editor for The Song of Achilles, Lee Boudreaux, just got profiled in The Bookseller! I was fortunate enough to get to be one of the authors raving about her.
I hope that the fall season is treating everyone very well, and best wishes for all the days ahead.
This posting is long overdue, but I’m thrilled to finally report that Caryn Mandabach Productions Ltd., producer of the acclaimed BBC series Peaky Blinders, has optioned the rights to Song of Achilles for a possible television mini-series. I will look forward to providing more updates on this if/as they develop!
Sunday, August 31st, 2014
I’m very happy to announce that Porter Square Books, my local indie, now does international shipping! So those of you outside the US who wanted a signed and/or personalized copy of The Song of Achilles, Porter Square can now ship you one. If you’re interested, the details are here.
I’m a few months late on posting this, but here is a piece I wrote for Waterstones’ Writer’s Year series. It’s about the Bailey’s Prize (formerly the Orange Prize), my mom and tractor driving.
On to the events:
Thursday, September 11th 2014, 7PM, Newtonville Books, Newton, MA.
The terrific Newtonville Books has invited me to lead their September Celebrity Book Club. We’re going to be talking about one of my all-time favorite reads, Watership Down. Richard Adams’ tale of epic adventure and friendship among a band of rabbits is gripping, poignant and complex. Read it for the first time, or read it again; either way, come join us to discuss!
September 19th 2014, 7:30PM, Newton North High School, Newton, MA
As I mentioned in my previous post, Newton director Melissa Bernstein is staging the second part of The Song of Achilles on September 18th, 19th and 20th. I’ll be doing a talkback after the show on Friday the 19th. (Bonus: if you come to the Watership Down event above, you’ll have a chance to meet Melissa as well).
October 2nd 2014, 7:15PM, LA Library, Los Angeles, CA
I’m also thrilled to be doing an event in California on October 2nd for the LA Library’s ALOUD series. I’ll be talking about Homeric adaptation with novelist and Classicist Zachary Mason, who wrote the terrific Lost Books of the Odyssey.
October 28th 2014, 7PM, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
Finally, I’m going to be at Porter Square books interviewing Eimear McBride, author of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, which won the 2014 Bailey’s Prize for Fiction (formerly the Orange Prize).
Saturday, August 30th, 2014
Last spring Newton director Melissa Bernstein staged the first half of The Song of Achilles. It was a pleasure and honor to see the actors bring these characters so vividly to life, and I remember being particularly impressed that, despite knowing it was coming, I jumped when Thetis appeared for the first time. In these days of CGI everything, it was a reminder of just how much magic good directors and actors can make with makeup, a few lights, and a sound cue.
So, I’m thrilled to announce that Melissa and her team are back with Part II! The production, The Song of Achilles: Troy, stages the second half of the book, and goes up this September, Thursday the 18th, Friday the 19th and Saturday the 20th at 7:30 PM. I will once again be doing a talkback with the cast after the show on Friday the 19th, so if you come, please say hello!
Tickets are available through Melissa’s website, The Newton Theatre Company, where you can also find more details about the show. As before, the production is co-produced with Newton North High School, and features Boston-area actors of all ages. All proceeds go towards covering the school’s theater operating costs.
Hope to see you there!
Sunday, March 23rd, 2014
Many months ago, I did an event at the fabulous Newtonville Books, in Newton MA, where I had the good fortune to meet local theater director Melissa Bernstein, who expressed an interest in doing a non-profit, staged reading of “The Song of Achilles.” As a theater lover and director myself, I was thrilled, especially when I saw her passion for the project. I am delighted to announce that after months of hard work by her and her cast, this event, now officially “The Song of Achilles: A Staging” goes up in Newton this weekend!
The production, which tackles the first half of the novel, is produced in collaboration with local high school Newton North, and features Boston-area actors of all ages. Here are the performance dates and times:
Thursday, March 27th, 7:30 PM: Acts I and II (taking Achilles and Patroclus through their time with the teacher Chiron).
Friday, March 28th, 7:30 PM: Acts III and IV (following Achilles and Patroclus from Chiron until just before sailing to Troy).
Saturday, March 29th, 3:00 PM-9:00 PM: Acts I-IV all together, including an intermission with free dinner.
I’ll be doing a talkback after Friday’s performance with Melissa, and will also be in the audience on Thursday and Friday, and possibly Saturday as well. So if you come, please say hello!
More information on the show and reserving tickets can be found here—all proceeds go to cover the school’s theater operating costs. Hope to see you there!
Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
I am thrilled to announce that xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths, is officially out! It’s edited by the wonderful Kate Bernheimer, and offers fifty new takes on myths from lots of different traditions. Aside from my own GALATEA, you’ll find stories by Aimee Bender, Kevin Wilson, Joy Williams, Zachary Mason, Kelly Braffet and Owen King, and Max Gladstone–who does a terrific retelling of an episode from the Mahabharata. The collection has already gotten a rave review from Booklist. Myth-lovers, rejoice!
Tuesday, September 24th, 2013
I noted in my last post that I was yearning for crisper weather. The Reykjavik International Literary Festival definitely granted my wish! Iceland offered gorgeous blue skies, but the wind was regularly blowing at 50 miles an hour, and it hailed several times. Also, there was a sandstorm.
Crazy weather aside, I had a terrific time at the festival, which is a true haven for book lovers, and was also delighted to get to meet everyone at my wonderful Icelandic publisher, Salka, led by Hildur Hermóðsdóttir. I particularly enjoyed the cover they did for the Iceland edition, translated by Þórunn Hjartardóttir. It uses one of my favorite statues–Menelaus supporting Patroclus’ dead body, currently in Florence:
By the way, Iceland is just as beautiful as everyone says, routinely offering vistas like this:
I also learned about Iceland’s annual Christmas-season “book flood” a lovely tradition where everyone gives each other books for the holidays. My kind of place!
Thursday, September 5th, 2013
Delighted to announce that Library Journal gave my short story Galatea a starred review! The full text is here (my review is the last on the page).
In other news, The Guardian chose The Song of Achilles for their August book club, which included the chance to answer reader questions live for an hour. I had a great time and have never typed so fast in my life!
I’m also excited to be heading off to the Reykjavik Literary Festival next week, where I’m doing a reading and a public interview, and also taking part in the (gulp) Literary Death Match. (More details on times and places for all those on my appearances page.) One of my favorite books of the past year, Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, is set in Iceland, and will definitely be coming with me. If you haven’t read it yet, I absolutely recommend it.
As I was typing the date for this post, I realized with shock that exactly two years ago today The Song of Achilles was published for the first time by Bloomsbury in the UK. I can still remember just how nervous and thrilled I was holding the hardback in my hands. I can also remember being worried that it would never find an audience. But thanks to the loveliness and generosity of publishers, booksellers, and especially readers, it did. I am so grateful–thank you.
I wish you all a very happy start to September. After the heatwaves and humidity here in Cambridge, I admit to being eager for crisper weather!
Tuesday, August 12th, 2013
My new short story, GALATEA, based on the story of the sculptor Pygmalion, is debuting today in the US as an e-book single from Ecco, and is already out in the UK as a Kindle single with Bloomsbury. In the myth, Pygmalion falls in love with his own statue, and prays to the goddess Aphrodite for her to be brought to life. His wish is granted and the two marry. It’s a story that has inspired a number of retellings and adaptations including, most famously, George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, which became My Fair Lady.
I’ve always been fascinated by this odd myth, because it has so many resonances: the artist’s obsession with his or her own work, yearning for an unrequited love and, disturbingly, the fact that only a woman you create yourself is worthy of being your wife. It was this last idea that inspired my own version, which is narrated by Galatea, the statue-woman herself. In following this path, I was drawing primarily on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which Pygmalion is so disgusted by the women in his town that he begs the goddess to make his stone statue real, because only she is pure and perfect enough to be his wife.
By the way, I originally wrote the story for a myth anthology forthcoming from Penguin called XO ORPHEUS, edited by the terrific Kate Bernheimer, which has over fifty retellings of favorite myths. A definite must for myth-lovers!
April 9th, 2013
As a child, there were two places I always felt at home, the library and the bookstore. The hours I spent in them were unreservedly joyous; for me, there was no greater treat than being surrounded by stories. As an adult, the same love remains. I can’t pass a good-looking bookstore without going in and, as the lovely librarians at my local branch can testify, I’m there at least once a week and usually more. So I was especially excited to learn that The Song of Achilles was recently shortlisted for two awards, one associated with libraries in the US and one with independent bookstores in the UK.
Every year, the Massachusetts Center for the Book and the Massachusetts Library Association team up to nominate books for The Massachusetts Book Awards. The books all share either a Massachusetts subject, or an author who hails from Massachusetts, or both. I’m thrilled to announce that The Song of Achilles was shortlisted for the Fiction category! I was especially pleased to be there beside wonderful authors like Max Gladstone whose book Three Parts Dead I have raved about in previous posts.
I’m equally thrilled to announce that The Song of Achilles has been shortlisted for the Independent Bookseller Award in the UK, with an absolutely blow-your-mind list that includes some of my favorite books of the last year: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki and Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. I am honored to be in such company!
I am so moved to have been included on these shortlists and so grateful to all the librarians and booksellers who have encouraged me, not only as a reader, but also as a writer. In the past year and a half I’ve had the good fortune to visit so many outstanding independent bookstores and libraries, and in every case what makes them so outstanding is the people: the passionate and enthusiastic sellers and librarians whose tireless advocacy makes the world of books go round. I’m so grateful for all the support they’ve given my work and very glad for this opportunity to say: thank you for everything.
Reviews“A startlingly original work of art by an incredibly talented new novelist... a book I could not put down.” Ann Patchett, author of the Orange Prize-winning Bel Canto
- Moving News and More
- Song of Achilles Potential Mini-Series
- News and Upcoming Events
- The Song of Achilles onstage, part II
- The Song of Achilles on Newton, MA Stage
- XO ORPHEUS is out!
- Home from Iceland
- News on Galatea, Guardian Chat, and more
- New Short Story, inspired by Pygmalion myth
- Exciting shortlist news! Mass Book and UK Independent Bookseller Awards