Hugo Award for Best Related Work, 2021
"Narrator JD Jackson addresses his listener as 'bro' in this decidedly contemporary retelling of the classic saga ... His brilliant performance captures all the artistry, wit, and immediacy of this fresh translation, and breathes new life into what for most has been a literary fossil." (AudioFile Magazine, Earphones Award winner)
A new, feminist translation of Beowulf by the author of the much-buzzed-about novel The Mere Wife
Nearly 20 years after Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf - and 50 years after the translation that continues to torment high-school students around the world - there is a radical new verse translation of the epic poem by Maria Dahvana Headley, which brings to light elements that have never before been translated into English, recontextualizing the binary narrative of monsters and heroes in a tale in which the two categories often entwine, justice is rarely served, and dragons live among us.
A man seeks to prove himself as a hero. A monster seeks silence in his territory. A warrior seeks to avenge her murdered son. A dragon ends it all. The familiar elements of the epic poem are seen with a novelist’s eye toward gender, genre, and history - Beowulf has always been a tale of entitlement and encroachment, powerful men seeking to become more powerful, and one woman seeking justice for her child, but this version brings new context to an old story. While crafting her contemporary adaptation of Beowulf, Headley unearthed significant shifts lost over centuries of translation.
A Macmillan Audio production from MCD x FSG Originals
"Brash and belligerent, lunatic and invigorating, with passages of sublime poetry punctuated by obscenities and social-media shorthand." (Ruth Franklin, The New Yorker)
"The author of the crazy-cool Beowulf-inspired novel The Mere Wife tackles the Old English epic poem with a fierce new feminist translation that radically recontextualizes the tale." (Barbara VanDenburgh, USA Today)
An NPR Best Book of the Year, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year, 2020
Locus Awards Nominee, 2021