We’ve seen something quite cool happen to films in the last couple of years. One might even say it’s pretty bitchin’. Hit movies are being remade with all-female casts and folks are loving it. From Ghost Busters: Answer the Call to the Ocean’s Eight movie, people want to see a change. And now it’s happening to books too. Pat Barker, winner of the Booker Prize, has a new book out that completely retells the story of Troy with female characters and narrators.
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According to BBC, The Silence of the Girls is Barker’s new book set in the mythical time of Achilles, the Greeks, and the Battle and conquest of Troy. The stories we’ve heard about for ages, like Homer’s Iliad, now have a more modern twist. Barker explains the direction she wants to take towards these ancient works.
People are a bit uncertain what’s based on actual fact… Some readers will have consumed every version going of the Iliad and others might just about know the phrase Achilles Heel and that’s it. But I’m retelling a myth which still has significance in the modern world.
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Barker builds her novel around Briseis’ point of view and narration. In the original story she was kidnapped and becomes Achilles’ bride. We don’t get much on her life or background, but now she’s getting another chance. She said:
I see fiction as an exploration which has to be open-minded. You have to be prepared to go where the story and the characters take you – even if you land up somewhere not particularly comfortable in terms of your beliefs.
Professor Edith Hall of King’s College London believes Barker’s work could change how we see ancient history. “A good writer like Pat Barker wants to investigate Briseis’ life as a woman – which the original stories entirely ignore – but also her ethnicity because she’s transplanted from the Asiatic culture she grew up in.”
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Barker’s work shows us that many authors are rewriting Greek classic and looking more into the woman’s side of the story. It’s very relative to these times, and perhaps now is as good a time as any for a change.