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Orpheus Lost


HarperCollinsPublishers are proud to announce the publication of award-winning author, Janette Turner Hospital’s Orpheus Lost.

Achingly sensual, effortlessly lyrical, Janette Turner Hospital’s dazzling Orpheus Lost is a powerful and disturbing novel.

It is a love story on a grand scale that spans America, Australia and the Middle East.  It is also an exploration of the ghastly side effects of terrorism and of the nightmarish mistakes of war time from which the lovers must struggle to extricate themselves.

In the ancient myth, Orpheus travels to the underworld to rescue his lover Eurydice from death. In this compelling re-imagining of the Orpheus story, Leela travels into an underworld of kidnapping, torture and despair in search of her lover. A mathematical genius, Leela has escaped her hardscrabble Southern hometown to study in Boston. There she encounters Mishka, a young Australian musician who soon becomes her lover. Then one day Leela is picked up off the street and taken to an interrogation centre. There has been an ‘incident’, an explosion on the underground; terrorists are suspected. Her interrogators reveal that Mishka may not be all he seems. But as she struggles to digest all this, Mishka disappears…

"One of the most powerful and innovative writers in English today.’
- Times Literary Supplement

Janette’s inspiration for Orpheus Lost:

‘I’ve always been intensely interested in examining ordinary human beings, people without political agendas, who are suddenly caught up in the fist of history and crisis. If someone happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, what happens to their lives from that point onwards? How do they negotiate life, history, politics thereafter?

‘I suppose I can trace the birth of this intense interest to something that happened to me when we were living in a village in South India in 1977. I was with my two young children in an exceedlingly ramshackle taxi heading from the village to the city market in Trivandrum. It was a time of political upheaval in India. Riots broke out, and suddenly our taxi was surrounded by a mob waving the banners of the Communist Party of South India. The taxi could not move forward. Our taxi driver was very frightened and was trembling violently. The rioters were drumming on the taxi roof and windows. The children and I were in the back seat and I felt that weird and absolute calm which is actually shock. I had an arm around each child and can still vividly remember the two dominant thoughts in my head: 1) I must make the children feel safe with me and 2) No one will ever know what happened to us. In fact, the tense situation only lasted a few minutes and then the crowd let the taxi move slowly forward. Since then, I’ve been aware of how suddenly and how randomly political events of which one is only dimly aware can disrupt a life.’