Books Magazine

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller Wins the Orange Prize; Justly So? Ask Critics

By Periscope @periscopepost
Brad Pitt as Achilles in the film Troy

Brad Pitt as Achilles in the film Troy. Madeline Miller's Orange Prize winning novel The Song of Achilles tells the story of his love of Patroclus

The background

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller has won the Orange prize for fiction. A debut novel based on Homer’s The Iliad, as well as other myths, it tells the story of the love between Patroclus and Achilles. Patroclus is exiled from his home and sent to live with Achilles, who is the son of Thetis, a sea goddess. The two go to Troy together to fight; Patroclus, famously, puts on Achilles’ armor whilst the latter is out of action – and is killed.

This is the 17th Orange prize, and the last, since the mobile phone company is about to end its sponsorship. Miller, a Latin and Greek teacher from Cambridge, Massachussets, wins the £30,000 prize and can expect a large sales spike. Commentators are saying that it represents a win for the Classics, whilst the book itself does not necessarily merit the award.

Joanna Trollope, chair of the judges, said: “It was in some ways a surprise to us. But it fulfils [the award's] criteria of inventiveness and originality. For my generation this might be a familiar story but I don’t think it is so familiar for a lot of younger readers. Miller handles it with extraordinary lightness – and it is fresh,” quoted on The Guardian.

A triumph for the Classics

Charlotte Higgins on The Guardian said that Miller’s win was “culturally inevitable.” There has been a slew of works stemming from the Iliad recently – by David Malouf, Alice Oswald, Caroline Alexander, to name a few. It’s because Homer’s text is “foundational”, and is “the greatest of all war poems”, reflecting our “age of cultural conflict.” It can be endlessly reinterpreted, which Miller has done, asking questions about Patroclus. She “never drops a note.” The fact is, “classics is having its day” – and Latin and Greek are seen as “no longer an expression of class pretension or elitism.”

Winning isn’t everything

The voting process was “fraught,” said Orange prize judge Natalie Haynes in The Independent. Miller’s novel is “beautiful”; but whether it’s “objectively better” than the other books on the shortlist isn’t a question Haynes felt she could answer. But that isn’t the point. The Orange Prize, as should all prizes, is helping to raise the profile of authors in a world where books pages are increasingly squeezed. Winning isn’t everything: “when readers are finding new books and new authors, we all win.”

It’s not literary, but it is enjoyable

Miller’s book is “enjoyable,” said Philip Womack on The Telegraph. But should it have won? It’s a “triumph of glitzy story-telling over literary merit”, that has “its own compelling nature.” It’s unashamedly romping; but it’s hardly original – Mary Renault did much the same thing in her books about Alexander the Great, which were narrated by his “catamite”, Bagoas. Though it’s not necessarily a literary great, that’s not to say you “shouldn’t go and read” it – it’s “gloriously, wonderfully silly. And it might just send you in the direction of darker, stranger depths – or even to Homer himself.”

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Shilo Sanders- Son Of Deion Sanders Thanks Courts For Allowing Him To Live With...

    Shilo Sanders- Deion Sanders Thanks Courts Allowing Live With Pilar

    ChristianNews Shilo Sanders, the son of NFL Hall of Famer,  Deion Sanders took to twitter to “thank” the courts for allowing him to live with his mother, Pilar... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Firstladyb
  • “I Feel Great”

    Feel Great”

    Jakub went to his doctor's office believing that he had a back injury, but returned with a chocking diagnosis instead. He had type 2 diabetes - in spite of... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Dietdoctor
  • July Allotment Recap (2/2)

    July Allotment Recap (2/2)

    Sunday afternoon saw us return bravely to 24a even though there were more thundery showers foretold by the weatherman. I will admit that I guffawed at the... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Chrryblossomtat2
  • Culinary Delicacies in Croatia- What to Eat and Drink in Croatia

    Culinary Delicacies Croatia- What Drink Croatia

    In my earlier post, we spoke about how Croatia is a stunning European destination, let us now see what are the culinary delicacies in Croatia or what you can... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Kash Pals
  • #Golf Training Aids Spotlight: The Delta Putt

    #Golf Training Aids Spotlight: Delta Putt

    Do you consider yourself to be a strong putter or do you feel you could improve your make percentage on the green? Most amateurs could use help with the flat... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Golfforbeginners
  • Three Incredible Hikes in Southern Iceland3 Min Read

    Three Incredible Hikes Southern Iceland3 Read

    Nature takes center stage in Iceland, where there's a stunning view around every bend: massive glaciers, expansive lava fields, powerful waterfalls, black sand... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Healthytravelblog
  • What I Wore: Daytime Pajamas

    What Wore: Daytime Pajamas

    Pajama top: ELOQUII (14) | Pajama pants: ELOQUII (14) | Shoes: ASOS (similar) | Earrings: J. Crew ( same in different colors, similar concept in same color) |... Read more

    The 04 August 2017 by   Wardrobeoxygen