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Review: Ransom by David Malouf

ransom malouf Review: Ransom by David Malouf

You know my story, he said. You must have heard it a hundred times as a child in your fathers palace. . .

donkey ransom Review: Ransom by David Malouf

David Malouf is a renowned Australian writer known for a thoughtful body of work that includes Fly Away Peter and the Booker short-listed Remembering Babylon. Ransom is actually the first of Maloufs books that Ive read, and Im grateful that I had the opportunity to visit his work.

Ransom is an austerely, sparingly written novel that revisits Homers famous Iliad. It traces the story of King Priam, whose son has been cruelly slaughtered by Achilles, who has gone mad attempting to come to terms with being thrown down to earth as a mere mortal. Achilles torments Priam by dragging the body of his son behind his chariot until it is mutilated and unrecognisable; however, each day his dead son is returned to his former state only to be mutilated all over again. Priam sloughs off his kingly possessions and airs and sets out with a laconic cart driver in order to beg Achilles to return his son.

Ransom is a laconically written yet deeply moving book. Watching the sheltered, childlike Priam venture out into the world to confront his grief in the manner of a regular man is both haunting and compelling. As the story unfolds, we realise to what an extent this king is merely a puppet, a mouthpiece, and how little agency he actually has in his life. Malouf weaves a deft and fascinating narrative around these ancient characters, and I was surprised to find myself turning through the pages to finish this book in a single sitting. Ransom is an accomplished work, and would be well-suited to inclusion in a book club.

 Review: Ransom by David Malouf

Purchase Ransom.

Other books by David Malouf you might like: An Imaginary Life; Fly Away Peter; Remembering Babylon

Acknowledgements: donkey image by Juan Gnecco, courtesy of

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