In the plain outside the walls of Troy, Agamemnon demands a fortress. With no materials except a few trees and unlimited sand, the Greeks dig a negative image of a palace into the white plain: a vast, inverted castle soaring into the depths of the earth.
After ten years' journeying Odysseus returns, again and again, to Ithaca. Each time he finds something different: his patient wife Penelope has betrayed him and married; his arrival accelerates time and he watches his family age and die in front of him; he walks into an empty house in ruins; he returns but is so bored he sets sail again to repeat his voyage; he comes back to find Penelope is dead.
Made up of forty-four retellings of passages from Homer's Odyssey, Zachary Mason's book is a fictional apocrypha: a radical and thrilling renovation of Classical legend. He uses Homer's linear narrative and explodes it: presenting fragments of alternative and contradictory re-takes and out-takes of the same familiar stories - the Trojan Horse, the Cyclops, Circe, the Sirens - breaking them up and putting them together into new shapes. Turned inside-out, these stories become glosses, mirrors and mazes that explore and examine Odysseus's journey: allowing us to see it afresh, in all its ambition, sadness and futility. Reminiscent of Borges or the Calvino of Invisible Cities, The Lost Books of the Odyssey is elegant, allusive, provocative and utterly fascinating - and seems destined to become a modern classic.