Theodor Kallifatides translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy

The Siege of Troy

A Novel

Publication Date: Sep 10, 2019

208 pp


List Price US $12.99
ISBN: 978-1-59051-972-1

Trade Paperback

List Price US $14.99
Trim Size (H x W): 7.5 x 5
ISBN: 978-1-59051-971-4

In this perceptive retelling of The Iliad, a young Greek teacher draws on the enduring power of myth to help her students cope with the terrors of Nazi occupation.

Bombs fall over a Greek village during World War II, and a teacher takes her students to a cave for shelter. There she tells them about another war—when the Greeks besieged Troy. Day after day, she recounts how the Greeks suffer from thirst, heat, and homesickness, and how the opponents meet—army against army, man against man. Helmets are cleaved, heads fly, blood flows. And everything had begun when Prince Paris of Troy fell in love with King Menelaus of Sparta’s wife, the beautiful Helen, and escaped with her to his homeland. Now Helen stands atop the city walls to witness the horrors set in motion by her flight. When her current and former loves face each other in battle, she knows that, whatever happens, she will be losing.

Theodor Kallifatides provides remarkable psychological insight in his version of The Iliad, downplaying the role of the gods and delving into the mindsets of its mortal heroes. Homer’s epic comes to life with a renewed urgency that allows us to experience events as though firsthand, and reveals timeless truths about the senselessness of war and what it means to be human.

Excerpt from The Siege of Troy

It had become a habit now. Each morning we waited for Miss to continue with her story, and she didn’t disappoint us. She arrived at school well before us and was waiting with shining eyes, as if we were about to celebrate her name day.

Were we all in love with her? I didn’t know. But I was, and I woke up every day terrified that she wouldn’t be there, that she would have gone back home. Seeing her was a miracle. I can’t put it any other way. It was a miracle.

That day was no exception. She began to speak.

Old King Nestor, whose name lives on in several languages to denote the wisdom that comes with age, was sitting in his tent drinking wine with Machaon, the wounded physician, as the sound of the battle came closer and closer. What was going on? Were the Achaeans being driven out into the sea?

“Stay here and rest. I will make sure you are given a warm bath; that will make you feel better,” Nestor said to his friend. Then he picked up his shield of shining bronze and a spear with a sharp point, and left the tent.

Defeat was close. The Achaeans no longer had the strength to resist the Trojans, who were sure of victory. Nestor was considered to be the equal of the gods in terms of wisdom, but how could that wisdom help his countrymen now? Should he join the fray? He was old and weary. Any Trojan stripling could bring him down. He decided to seek out Agamemnon, the supreme commander.

“Kallifatides has done a splendid job of retelling The Iliad…[The Siege of Troy] possesses the elegance and eloquence of simplicity. It’s a lovely introduction to Homer’s original.” —Booklist

“An enigmatic teacher brings the Trojan War to unforgettable life, while her private ambiguity provides a compelling counterpoint to this concise and powerful novel.” —Shelf Awareness

“Violent and poetic, with memorable psychological depth…Kallifatides’s reworking of Homer’s epic provides an intriguing take on the human dimension of the myth and strikes a rich, resonant note.” —Publishers Weekly

“A unique retelling of The Iliad…This is a wonderful novel.” —Boston Globe, Most Anticipated Books of the Season

Praise for Another Life:

“Kallifatides has written an unusual and refreshing memoir…A fascinating look into a prolific author’s mind, especially welcome since there have not been enough English translations of his books.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The work of Greek-born Swedish writer Theodor Kallifatides is not widely known in the United States. But based on the merits of his charming, late-life memoir…that shameful wrong needs to be righted. Slender in size, yet anything but slight in scope, this inviting meditation on age, writing and sense of place, beautifully translated into English by Marlaine Delargy, is witty, profound and thoroughly captivating…[an] exquisite book.” —BookPage

“In his elegiac, tender meditation on migrations, both geographic and psychic—from one country to another, from one language to another, from youth to old age, from the time of the present to memories of the past—Kallifatides offers his reader a personal politics of the human.” —Siri Hustvedt, author of The Blazing World