by Ferdia Lennon
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Pub Date 26 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 26 Apr 2024
Henry Holt & Company, Henry Holt and Co.
An utterly original celebration of that which binds humanity across battle lines and history.
On the island of Sicily amid the Peloponnesian War, the Syracusans have figured out what to do with the surviving Athenians who had the gall to invade their city: they’ve herded the sorry prisoners of war into a rock quarry and left them to rot. Looking for a way to pass the time, Lampo and Gelon, two unemployed potters with a soft spot for poetry and drink, head down into the quarry to feed the Athenians if, and only if, they can manage a few choice lines from their great playwright Euripides. Before long, the two mates hatch a plan to direct a full-blown production of Medea. After all, you can hate the people but love their art. But as opening night approaches, what started as a lark quickly sets in motion a series of extraordinary events, and our wayward heroes begin to realize that staging a play can be as dangerous as fighting a war, with all sorts of risks to life, limb, and friendship.
Told in a contemporary Irish voice and as riotously funny as it is deeply moving, Glorious Exploits is an unforgettable ode to the power of art in a time of war, brotherhood in a time of enmity, and human will throughout the ages.
“Bold and totally unexpected, I loved this book. A brilliant novel about friendship, the healing power of art, and why we must fight for our dreams. I was hooked from the first page.” —Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain, winner of the 2020 Booker Prize
“Glorious Exploits is as madly ambitious as a production of Euripides in a prison quarry, and succeeds thanks to Ferdia Lennon's ability to conjure up the past as vividly as Mary Renault, with all the blunt humanity of Roddy Doyle. Cathartic like all great tragedy, but shockingly funny too, this outstandingly original debut is just glorious.” —Emma Donoghue, author of Room and The Wonder
“In At Swims-Two-Birds, Flann O'Brien gave us cowboys riding through Dublin. Now, Ferdia Lennon gives us modern-day Dubliners living among the ancient Greeks. This is a very special, very clever, very entertaining novel.” —Roddy Doyle, author of Love: A Novel
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 7 members
This book was an absolute masterpiece. Right away the storytelling with an Irish voice in an ancient Sicilian setting made the story, for me, so approachable. A modern Greek tragedy filled with characters seeking beauty in darkness, forging bonds least expected, love, loss, war, the theatre. I was a sniveling mess by the last chapter with how beautifully full-circle the story came. This is a book that will stick with me forever.
Thanks to Henry Holt and Co and NetGalley for this digital ARC.
I had little idea as to what to expect when I was approved for this ARC of Ferdia Lennon's 'Glorious Exploits' but, as an Irishman with a long-standing interest in the classics, the description tickled my fancy.
I'm so glad I requested and was approved. This novel is just fantastic. It's so original in its subject matter and - at a time when in films and on TV every ancient people have a posh English accent - the use of the modern Irish use of the English language is refreshing, funny, and madly appropriate.
During the Peloponnesian Wars - Syracuse ascendant over Athens - two boozy, unemployed potters decide to stage two plays by Euripides in a penal quarry acted by the doomed Athenian prisoners who populated and supported by a handful of bereaved children. What could possibly go wrong?
This novel brings the reader originality, humor, emotion, a hard look at both sides of a war, humanity, and friendship.
I hope 'Glorious Exploits0 is a raging success and I hope we see it on TV some day, it would be amazing.
I absolutely loved this story. Very entertaining, and one the top books I’ve read this year.
It’s friendship, dreams, and humanity in the aftermath of the Peloponnesian War, in Syracuse.
Lampo and Gelon are best mates and unemployed potters who love their wine. Gelon loves Euripides and is worried Syracusians won’t be able to see one of his plays. Gelon decides to direct Medea and Trojan War with the Athenian prisoners in the quarry. Lampo is along for the ride and narrates the story in a modern Irish accent. Lampo is audacious, brazen and cheeky and that’s why we fall in love with him.
Thank you @netgalley and @henryholtbooks for the eARC.