From the award-winning, best-selling writer: a deeply moving tale of a father and son’s transformative journey in reading – and reliving – Homer’s epic masterpiece.
When eighty-one-year-old retired scientist Jay unexpectedly enrols in his estranged classicist son Daniel’s course on the Odyssey, the journey of a lifetime commences. Professor and student glean life lessons from the page over a semester and, that summer, son and father take to the sea to follow Odysseus’s epic trail. Reading Homer becomes their chance to understand each other before it’s too late. Theirs is a moving and erudite story of filial love and the importance of the classics. Rich with literary and emotional insight and weaving themes of deception and recognition, marriage and children, the pleasures of travel and the meaning of home, this is memoir writing at its finest.
‘A brilliant family memoir … At its core, it is a funny, loving portrait of a difficult but loving parent: … An Odyssey is a stellar contribution to the genre of memoirs about reading – literary analysis and the personal stories are woven together in a way that feels both artful and natural. A thoughtful book from which non-classicists will learn a great deal about Homer … A funny, loving portrait of a difficult but loving parent: a “much-turning man”’ Emily Wilson, Guardian
‘Combining an in-depth literary analysis with a personal narrative is a bold enterprise. An Odyssey could have been, in the hands of a lesser writer, grandiose. It isn’t. It is so well written that every page makes you feel more alert and alive. The brilliance of An Odyssey lies in the insightfulness of the writing, as Mendelsohn immerses himself in the Odyssey: lives it, breathes it, and presses it for meaning’ Helen Morales, TLS
‘There are a handful of books that have captured the pleasure and romance of this subject. Donna Tartt’s was one … this is another. Homer has a phrase for those who can speak bewitchingly: they have ‘winged words’. Mendelsohn has winged words’ The Times
‘The book enacts a truth that has long been central to Mendelsohn’s writing and teaching, which is that the great works of antiquity remain relevant today. His prose flits seamlessly across intervals and registers, switching from erudite exposition one minute to emotion-filled reminiscence the next. An accomplished, brave book that testifies to what is perhaps The Odyssey’s most abiding message: that intelligence has little value if it isn’t allied to love’ Observer
‘An exquisitely written book about fathers and sons, life and grief’ Mail on Sunday
‘Subtle, profoundly moving … an intricately constructed, multidimensional journey of a father and son and their travails through life and love … A book of shimmering, beautiful, dapple-skilled intelligence’ Adam Nicolson, New York Times Book Review