For Gilgamesh initiates, it’s as good a place to start as any.

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GILGAMESH

THE NEW TRANSLATION

Relying chiefly on the works of early-20th-century scholars, Davis (Beowulf: The New Translation, 2013) gives an old-school treatment to one of the world’s foremost works of literature.

Believed to have originated in oral form more than 4,000 years ago, the ancient Middle Eastern tale of Gilgamesh has been subjected to all manner of translation: poetic, literary, literal, pastiche. Davis opts for the latter, combining the Sumerian and Akkadian versions and filling in the lacunae as befits his research. After a tidy introduction spotlighting the epic’s key historic figures (Sir Henry Rawlinson, Sir Austen Henry Layard and the integral George Smith), the familiar tale begins. Gilgamesh, the fifth king of the first dynasty of Uruk, challenges and then befriends the beast-man Enkidu, fashioned by the gods to counterbalance Gilgamesh’s decadent, ruthless comportment. Determined to be forever remembered, the godlike duo venture forth to challenge Humbaba, a fearsome giant who guards the Forest of Cedars. Their bloodlust doesn’t stop there, and as punishment for their hubris, the gods decide that Gilgamesh must live while Enkidu dies. Gilgamesh’s ensuing quest for immortality reads particularly well, resplendent with melancholy and desperation. “If you indeed be Gilgamesh, King of high-wall’d Uruk,” asks Siduri, Maker of Wine, “wherefore is your vigor so wasted and your cheeks so sunken? Wherefore is your face so wretched and why is your spirt so sorrowful?” While the original epic is known for its repetitive parallelism, Davis’ sometimes-rote translation challenges readers to work through certain redundant sections. Accompanying the text proper are two appendices; the first, Tablet XII, is treated as either an epilogue or “an appendage written by an inferior author and thus not worthy of inclusion.” The second, an earlier poem, recounts the death of Gilgamesh. Two scholarly essays help illuminate the historical and literary context of the epic, but as this version purports to draw from modern discoveries, the lack of contemporary references feels like a missed opportunity.

For Gilgamesh initiates, it’s as good a place to start as any.

Pub Date: July 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1500256463

Page Count: 138

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2014

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A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

GHOSTED

In Walsh’s American debut, a woman desperately tries to find out why the man she spent a whirlwind week with never called.

Sarah has just separated from her American husband and is visiting her hometown in England when she meets Eddie. He’s kind and charming, and although they only spend one week together, she falls in love. When he has to leave for a trip, she knows they’ll keep in touch—they’re already making plans for the rest of their lives. But then Eddie never calls, and Sarah’s increasingly frantic efforts to contact him are fruitless. Is he hurt? Is he dead? As her friends tell her, there’s a far greater likelihood that he’s just blowing her off—she’s been ghosted. After trying to track Eddie down at a football game, Sarah starts to become ashamed of herself—after all, she’s almost 40 years old and she’s essentially stalking a man who never called her. But as Sarah slowly learns, she and Eddie didn’t actually meet randomly—they both have a connection to an accident that happened years ago, and it may have something to do with why he disappeared. The tension quickly amps up as the secrets of Eddie’s and Sarah’s pasts are revealed, and the truth behind their connection is genuinely surprising and heartbreaking. The barriers between Sarah and Eddie seem insurmountable at times, and although their issues are resolved in a tidy manner, the emotions behind their actions are always believable. Walsh has created a deeply moving romance with an intriguing mystery and a touching portrait of grief at its heart.

A romantic, sad, and ultimately hopeful book that’s perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes.

Pub Date: July 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-52277-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

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THE STARLESS SEA

A withdrawn graduate student embarks on an epic quest to restore balance to the world in this long-anticipated follow-up to The Night Circus (2011).

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a typical millennial introvert; he likes video games, escapist reading, and drinking sidecars. But when he recognizes himself in the pages of a mysterious book from the university library, he's unnerved—and determined to uncover the truth. What begins as a journey for answers turns into something much bigger, and Zachary must decide whether to trust the handsome stranger he meets at a highflying literary fundraiser in New York or to retreat back to his thesis and forget the whole affair. In a high-wire feat of metatextual derring-do, Morgenstern weaves Zachary's adventure into a stunning array of linked fables, myths, and origin stories. There are pirates and weary travelers, painters who can see the future, lovers torn asunder, a menacing Owl King, and safe harbors for all the stories of the world, far below the Earth on the golden shores of a Starless Sea. Clocking in at more than 500 pages, the novel requires patience as Morgenstern puts all the pieces in place, but it is exquisitely pleasurable to watch the gears of this epic fantasy turn once they're set in motion. As in The Night Circus, Morgenstern is at her best when she imagines worlds and rooms and parties in vivid detail, right down to the ballroom stairs "festooned with lanterns and garlands of paper dipped in gold" or a cloak carved from ice with "ships and sailors and sea monsters...lost in the drifting snow." This novel is a love letter to readers as much as an invitation: Come and see how much magic is left in the world. Fans of Neil Gaiman and V.E. Schwab, Kelly Link and Susanna Clarke will want to heed the call.

An ambitious and bewitching gem of a book with mystery and passion inscribed on every page.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54121-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Aug. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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