The Siege of Troy

Other. Sept. 2019. 208p. ISBN 9781590519714. pap. $14.99; ebk. ISBN 9781590519721. f;.
Homer’s Iliad—the “strongest” antiwar novel ever written? That’s the belief of Kallifatides (Another Life: On Memory, Language, Love, and the Passage of Time), a multi-award-winning Greek novelist and translator who’s lived in Sweden since 1964. A lifetime admirer of the Iliad who regrets that the great classic is not better known, he’s out to remedy the situation by writing his own version of the Trojan War. He sets his tale in war-torn Greece under brutal German occupation during World War II. Miss, the young schoolteacher on whom the narrator has a crush, gathers her village class together each day and begins to tell the story of the war, despite bombing raids and public executions of Greek resistance fighters. In her retelling, such protagonists as Hector, Helen, Paris, and Patroclus come vividly alive as the war drags to its inexorable end. Delargy’s fluid translation enhances this classic.
VERDICT Kallifatides mirrors events of that great conflict in the daily lives of the villagers, for example, portraying the cruelty of the warrior Achilles as akin to that of the German soldiers. Who would have imagined that the immense original could be rendered simply and compellingly in so few pages? This translation is highly recommended to all readers with a healthy curiosity.

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