Gilgamesh by Joan London

‘What was her story in the great swirling darkness of the world?’

Gilgamesh is about searching, for people, for adventure, for identity and for purpose. In 1937, Leopold and Aram visit Edith’s family in south-west Australia. They are on their way home, indirectly, after working on an archaeological dig in Iraq. They are aware that the world is on the brink of war. One of the stories they share is the story of Gilgamesh, the legendary king of Uruk, and his journey after the death of his friend Enkidu. This story will play a part in each of their lives. In 1939 Edith and her young child set off from Australia to find the child’s father. Their travels take them to London to the Caucasus and the Middle East. The outbreak of war traps Edith and her child, disrupts their travel, raises more questions, and makes it much harder to find answers.

But are the answers there, so far from home? Are the answers external to the traveller, or are they contained within? Or is the journey itself more important than the destination? I finished this book restless for answers and wondering.

‘This too was home. This feeling of closeness, with nowhere else to go.’

Jennifer Cameron-Smith



5 thoughts on “Gilgamesh by Joan London

  1. I have fond memories of this novel, which set me on a path towards reading everything that London has written. (Which is, alas, not very many novels, she is not a prolific writer, but everything is well worth waiting for, IMO).
    Anyway, your review was the catalyst for me to look up my reading journal, from 2002 (!), to revisit my own thoughts. I loved the early parts of the book, but found events in the return to Australia section a bit confusing, and I never really worked out the significance of the references to Gilgamesh. I’ve subsequently read the original epic, so perhaps if I re-read the novel, I might do better at seeing the point of it, beyond the obvious elements of the archaeological dig.
    I must have borrowed the book from the library because I don’t have a copy of it, and I would never have despatched it to the Op Shop, not this one!

    Liked by 2 people

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