In his thrillingly contemporary retelling of the world’s oldest epic, award-winning poet Derrek Hines brings us as close as we may ever come to re-creating the power it had over its original listeners more than four thousand years ago in the ancient Near East.
Gilgamesh, the semi-divine ruler of Uruk, is a larger-than-life bully and abuser of his people. In order to tame the arrogant king, the gods create the wild and handsome Enkidu. But after Enkidu and Gilgamesh become fast friends, they defy the gods in a series of outsized adventures that brings Gilgamesh face to face with both loss and death itself. Hines energizes this timeless tale with vivid and electrifyingly modern images, from the goddess Ishtar cracking the sound barrier, to a battlefield nightmare of spectral snipers and exploding hand grenades, to the CAT-scan image of a dying friend. The themes of love and friendship, grief, despair, and hope had their first great expression in this story, and this dazzling new interpretation brings us into its thrall again.
About the Author
Derrek Hines was born and raised in Canada and read Ancient Near Eastern Studies at university. He has won prizes in, among others, the National Poetry Competition and the Arvon Foundation International Competition, and has published two books of poetry. He lives on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall.
“A vibrant and vigorous reimagining of the world’s first book, which should take its place alongside Heaney’s Beowulf and Hughes’s Ovid on the shelf of revivified classics.” —The New Statesman
“A brilliant version of an ancient tale; replete with humour, pathos, drama, and much more." –The Telegraph
"Derrek Hines makes Gilgamesh exciting." –The Guardian
"Hines's distinctive mode–part surreal, part cinematic–combines the concentration of lyric poetry with the narrative compulsion and fluency of an adventure story." –Times Literary Supplement
"Hines's energetic metaphors and nimble wit revivify the thrill of a very old tale."
“An evocative lyric journey through the Mesopotamian story, glittering with Hines’ own fresh images.” —The Financial Times
“A sparkling poetic vision.” —The Oxford Times
“Impressive, consistent . . . packed with good things.” —Christopher Logue
“I read this version with great interest and admiration. It has real energy and drive with some splendidly interesting images. I was held throughout.” —Ian Hamilton
“A superb achievement. The cinematic swoops, that terrific, loss-haunted elegy, absolutely packed with reverberating phrases. . . . It is not only a rendering of the poem but a brilliant, vital contemporary commentary on it.” —Paul Newman, editor, Abraxis