PRAISE FOR THE MERE WIFE

OUT NOW FROM MCD x FSG BOOKS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“[Maria Dahvana Headley's] modern-day re-imagining of Beowulf is the most surprising novel I've read this year. It's a bloody parody of suburban sanctimony and a feminist revision of macho heroism. In this brash appropriation of the Anglo-Saxon epic, Headley swoops from comedy to tragedy, from the drama of brunch to the horrors of war . . . Headley is the most fearsome warrior here, lunging and pivoting between ancient and modern realms, skewering class prejudices, defending the helpless and venturing into the dark crevices of our shameful fears. Someday The Mere Wife may take its place alongside such feminist classics as Wide Sargasso Sea because in its own wicked and wickedly funny way it's just as insightful about how we make and kill our monsters."

—Ron Charles, The Washington Post

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“Spiky, arresting . . . The novel plays ingeniously with its ancient source.”
—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

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"The lives of two protective mothers in American suburbia collide in [this] fascinating contemporary retelling of Beowulf.”

Entertainment Weekly

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“Headley (whose own translation [of Beowulf] comes out next year) brings the story of the hero, the monster, and the monster’s mother into contemporary times with uncommon vigor and depth.”

—Boris Kachka, Vulture

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“Maria Dahvana Headley’s The Mere Wife has finally been loosed upon the world. I say finally because I think the world needs this book. In Headley’s hands, Beowulf is revealed to be the perfect story to bring forward from the depths of Western history. Headley has turned it over, poked its squishy underbelly, asked it a bunch of questions, and come out with an entirely new version of the tale, exploring new perspectives and revealing truths new and old. It’s also a great, heart-wrenching read . . . If you enjoy battling monsters, I can’t recommend this book enough.”

—Leah Schnelbach, Tor.com

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“Maria Dahvana Headley’s new novel, The Mere Wife, is much more than a simple recasting of the ancient epic poem Beowulf in the suburbs . . . Headley, who is also working on a new translation of Beowulf, subverts the epic by exploring its good-versus-evil battle from the perspective of women who were largely left on the margins by the ancient bards.”

—Jennifer Kay, The Associated Press

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“The Mere Wife is a book on par with Lidia Yuknavitch's The Book of Joan: electric, feminist, literary retellings of famous tales, but with dystopian spins. The Mere Wife reimagines Beowulf by setting it in a suburban landscape of intense economic disparity . . . Headley's language is exquisite and imaginative, the contemporary adaptation on-point and thought provoking--essentially, this is how to retell a classic.”

—Elena Nicolaou, Refinery29

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“Bestselling author Maria Dahvana Headley takes a significant gamble in recasting Old English epic Beowulf in the American suburbs—but the gamble pays off. She enhances the themes of the classic with contemporary and feminist accents, creating a work that is both unique and worthy.”

The Christian Science Monitor [Best Books of July]

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"[A] stunner: a darkly electric reinterpretation of Beowulf that upends its Old English framework to comment on the nature of heroes and how we 'other' those different from ourselves... A strange tale told with sharp poetic imagery and mythic fervor."

Booklist (starred review)

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"There’s not a false note in this retelling, which does the Beowulf poet and his spear-Danes proud."

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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"Headley (Magonia) applies the broad contours of the Beowulf story to her tale but skillfully seeds her novel with reflections on anxieties and neuroses that speak to the concerns of modern parenting."

Publishers Weekly

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"Maria Dahvana Headley is a gift, a genius, and an absolute wonder; I would follow her anywhere."

—Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties

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"With a sharp eye and a deft flourish, Maria Dahvana Headley reimagines one of our oldest stories to give us a chilling, elemental vision of our latest selves. The Mere Wife is a bold, stunning riptide of a book."

―Téa Obreht, author of The Tiger's Wife

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“Maria Dahvana Headley translates the excesses of contemporary life into the gloriously mythic. This is not just an old story in new clothes: this is a consciousness-altering mind trip of a book.”

—Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble

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"The Mere Wife is a work of magic. A wild adventure; a celebration of monsters, myths, and the power of mother-love. Imagine a writer so bold, so ambitious, so about it that she challenges Beowulf to arm wrestle. That writer is Maria Dahvana Headley and let me tell you something, she is here to win."

—Victor LaValle, author of The Changeling

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"Maria Dahvana Headley writes with crackling headlong sentences that range among old plots and news observations about a world that earlier today seemed too familiar. Master story teller, brilliant stylist, a writer with this sort of command of language is a delight to read. Here's a book to call up an old story in the newest possible way." 

—Samuel R. Delany, author of Dhalgren and Dark Reflections

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"The Mere Wife is an astonishing reinterpretation of Beowulf: Beowulf in suburbia—epic, operatic, and razor-sharp, a story not of a thick-thewed thegn, but of women at war, as wives and warriors, mothers and matriarchs. Their chosen weapons are as likely to be swords as public relations, and they wield both fearlessly. They rule, and they fight." 

—Nicola Griffith, author of Hild

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"The Mere Wife [is] an intense, visceral reading experience. . . [the book is] a revisioning of Beowulf, and Maria finds the bones, the sharp edges, the bleeding heart of that story, and tells it against a modern context."

—Kat Howard, author of An Unkindness of Magicians

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