David Vann

Bright Air Black

A “sensual, brutal . . . ambitious, dazzling, disturbing, and memorable” retelling of Jason and the Argonauts seen through the eyes of Medea (Financial Times).
International bestselling and multi-prize-winning author David Vann transports readers to the Mediterranean and Black Sea, 3,250 years ago, for “[a] stunning depiction of one of mythology’s most complex characters” (The Australian).
It is thirteenth century BC, and the Argo is bound for its epic return journey across the Black Sea from Persia’s Colchis with the valiant Jason, the equally heroic Argonauts, and the treasured symbol of kingship, the Golden Fleece. Aboard as well is Medea, semi-divine priestess, and a believer in power, not gods. Having fled her father, and butchered her brother, she is embarking on a conquest of her own. Rejected for her gender, Medea is hungry for revenge, and to right the egregious fate of being born a woman in a world ruled by men.
In Bright Air Black, “David Vann blow[s] away all the elegance and toga-clad politeness . . . around our idea of ancient Greece . . . to reveal the bare bones of the Archaic period in all their bloody, reeking nastiness (The Times, London), and to deliver a bracing alternative to the long-held notions of Medea as monster or sorceress. We witness Medea’s humanity, her Bronze Age roots and position in Greek society, her love affair with Jason, the cataclysmic repercussions of betrayal, and the drive of an impassioned woman—victim, survivor, and ultimately, agent of her own destiny.
The most intimate and corporal version of Medea’s story ever told, Bright Air Black “a compelling study of human nature stripped to its most elemental” (The Guardian).
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