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. This radical new feminist verse translation of ‘Beowulf’ by Maria Dahvana Headley brings to light elements that have never before been translated into English. The familiar elements of the epic poem are seen with a novelist’s eye toward gender, genre, and history – it 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, transforming the binary narrative of monsters and heroes into a thrilling tale in which the two categories often entwine.
A space-obsessed child conjures up a vortex in his mother’s airing cupboard. A musician finds her friendship with a flock of birds opens up unexpected possibilities. A rat catcher, summoned to a decaying royal palace, is plunged into a battle for the throne of a ruined kingdom. Two newlyweds find themselves inhibited by the arrival in their lives of an outsized and watchful stuffed bear. Whether snared in traps artfully laid for them, or those of their own making, the characters in Naomi Ishiguro’s delightfully speculative debut collection yearn for freedom and flight, and find their worlds transformed beyond their wildest imaginings.