Maria Dahvana Headley is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and editor. Her books include the novels The Mere Wife, Magonia, Aerie, and Queen of Kings, and the memoir The Year of Yes. With Kat Howard, she is the author of The End of the Sentence, and with Neil Gaiman, she is the coeditor of Unnatural Creatures. Her stories have been short-listed for the Shirley Jackson, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, and her work has been supported by the MacDowell Colony and by Arte Studio Ginestrelle, where the first draft of Beowulf was written. She was raised with a wolf and a pack of sled dogs in the high desert of rural Idaho and now lives in Brooklyn, New York.
[The Mere Wife] includes some tantalizing snippets of
Beowulf as translated by Headley. Now we have the full
version, and it is electrifying . . . It is brash and belligerent,
lunatic and invigorating, with passages of sublime poetry
punctuated by obscenities and social-media shorthand. --Ruth
Franklin, The New Yorker I have a lot of things to say about
Maria Dahvana Headley's new book, Beowulf . . . The first thing I
need to tell you is that you have to read it now. No, I don't care
if you've read Beowulf (the original) before . . . I don't care
what you think of when you think of Beowulf in any of its hundreds
of other translations because this -- this -- version, Headley's
version, is an entirely different thing. It is its own thing.
--Jason Sheehan, NPR Books Bold . . . Electrifying.
--Ron Charles, The Washington Post This new translation of Beowulf brings the poem to profane, funny, hot-blooded life . . . Lively and vigorous . . . I've never read a Beowulf that felt so immediate and so alive. --Constance Grady, Vox The author of the crazy-cool Beowulf-inspired novel The Mere Wife tackles the Old English epic poem with a fierce new feminist translation that radically recontextualizes the tale.
--Barbara VanDenburgh, USA Today Of the four translations I've read, Headley's is the most readable and engaging. She combines a modern poetry style with some of the hallmarks of Old English poetry, and the words practically sing off the page . . . Headley's translation shows why it's vital to have women and people from diverse backgrounds translate texts. --Margaret Kingsbury, Buzzfeed An iconic work of early English literature comes in for up-to-the-minute treatment . . . From the very opening of the poem--'Bro!' in the place of the sturdy Saxon exhortation 'Hwaet'--you know this isn't your grandpappy's version of Beowulf . . . Headley's language and pacing keep perfect track with the events she describes . . . [giving] the 3,182-line text immediacy without surrendering a bit of its grand poetry. --Kirkus Reviews (starred) Headley brings a directness, intensity, and rhythm to her translation that I haven't seen before. This is what it must have felt like to sit in a mead hall and listen to a scop tell the tale. Other translations may be more scholarly, literal, or true to the poetic form of the original, but it's been a thousand years since Beowulf was this accessible or exciting. --Steve Thomas, The Fantasy Hive