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Orpheus Lost


Library Journal: Fall 2007 Editors' Choice
Library Journal: listed in Best 25 novels of 2007
American Library Association's Booklist:  listed in Best 30 novels of 2007

Orpheus Lost has made Booklist's Top 30 novels of the year, along with novels by Booker Prize winner Anne Enright, National Book Award winner Denis Johnson, Philip Roth, Don DeLillo, Michael Ondaatje, Ian MacEwan, Ha Jin, and Michael Chabon.


With a politically charged narrative intent on sorting out issues of identity and the clash between appearances and truth, this astonishingly rich novel by the author of Oyster will entrance readers the way Mishka's music entranced Leela.  Highly recommended.
                                                                                             Library Journal (starred review)

A post-9/11 reworking of the Orpheus myth by one of Australia's most acclaimed novelists.                                                                                                Publishers' Weekly

Hospital turns the mythical tables, sending a modern-day Eurydice to hellish secret interrogation facilities in search of her Orpheus, a musician suspected of terrorist ties…. A novel that grapples so thoughtfully with such resonant issues demands close attention.
                                                                                                               Kirkus Reviews

Janette Turner Hospital's new novel, "Orpheus Lost," dramatizes harsh, current war headlines through the forebodingly resonant framework of Greek legend. Her hot-blooded, edgy characters scramble for survival and love in a world at odds with imagination, intelligence, and integrity. Hospital's 12th book, like much of her work, is characterized by a rich, varied appreciation of place… a rich, wise, alarming novel, energized by Hospital's masterful suspense….   "Orpheus Lost" poses provocative challenges about individual agency in public and private spheres. Hospital understands that we each write the headlines. She leaves readers feeling hope and grief and a terrible sense of urgency about our own lives at this fragile moment in history.                                                                                                                      Boston Globe

…distinguished by an ability to render both the experience of extreme grief and the suspenseful mechanics of a conspiracy plot.
.                                                                                                                   New Yorker

I read Janette Turner Hospital's Orpheus Lost in one sitting.  She manages to blend  alarming  contemporary  events with  a total reimagining of myth--and make it scary and  moving all at once.                                                                                      Edmund White, Princeton University

 No book by this nervy, dynamic Australian-born author is ever anything less than intricate and deeply disquieting… Although she often follows the conventions of modern international conspiracy thrillers, Hospital is as consumed with the cultural past as she is with the topical present…. This novel's underpinning is the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice… Hospital's interest in the myth is not so much in its literary incarnations -- Ovid, say, or Rilke -- as in its musical influence…. Adding to the novel's mood of disorientation is its background murmur of anxiety. Random terrorist acts, large and small, punctuate the narrative.  In these panicky times, Hospital suggests, our everyday environment has become an underworld, murky with paranoia and ruled by fear.

Yet there is consolation. For most of these characters, displaced and bewildered by global cataclysms -- the Holocaust, Vietnam, the war on terror -- music evokes both sorrow and happiness…..  In its own way, Hospital's novel about music also aspires, like Michael Ondaatje's "Coming Through Slaughter" or Oscar Hijuelos' "The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love," to be music, or at least to mimic the solace it can offer.

Lushly orchestrated, "Orpheus Lost" answers grief and fear with an emotional expressiveness more visceral than words, with the candor of music -- and of myth.                                                                                                                    Los Angeles Times