Feature

Author of the week: Madeline Miller

The high school classics teacher won the Orange Prize for Fiction for her debut novel, The Song of Achilles.

Madeline Miller may have single-handedly started a Greek revival, said Sam Parker in HuffingtonPost.com. Late last month, the high school classics teacher from Cambridge, Mass., won the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction for her debut novel, The Song of Achilles, which recasts the tale of Homer’s Greek hero. It’s a story she knows well. She recalls her mother reading her Homer’s Iliad when she was just 5. “I remember feeling it was very real,” says Miller. “It wasn’t just some story about a perfect hero, it was about anger and pride and humans trying to do things and not succeeding. Some of these old stories have developed a reputation for being a bit elitist. That’s not how they were when they were written and composed; they were for everyone. I’d love to see that become the case again.”

Miller will be the last official winner of the Orange Prize, which has been awarded annually for the past 16 years to a female author writing in English, said Hephzibah Anderson in Bloomberg Businessweek. Orange, a British telecom company, announced late last month that it was cutting ties with the prize, which likely will find another sponsor by next spring. As for Miller, she appears ready, after 10 years with The Iliad, to take on Homer’s Odyssey next. “I don’t think I’m going to stay in Homer’s world forever. At some point I would love to write a contemporary novel,” she says. “But I really found myself just loving writing the character of Odysseus. I would love the chance to finish his story.”

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