Books

Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh

Gilgamesh by Joan London, Random House, $23.95.

This is an oldie-but-goody, recommended with such enthusiasm by a fellow reader I felt I had to give it a go — and so enjoyed the experience I am now passing it on.

Drawing on the epic of Gilgamesh, the world’s oldest known poem, it is both a paean to wanderlust (the book’s chief character, Edith, moves from a poor farm in south Western Australia to London, Istanbul, Armenia and Alexandria) and a celebration of the notions of love and home.

Edith is seeking the exotic traveller to whom, while still a teenager, she bore a son. The authorities take her baby away, she steals him back, and together they set out to reclaim his father and a homeland.

This synopsis gives but a scant sense of the elegance and poignancy Australian writer Joan London brings to her subject.

Like the Babylonian King Gilgamesh, Edith must test and almost lose herself before, ultimately, discovering her true value.

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