Madeline Miller is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, The Song of Achilles (2012), a reimagining of The Iliad, and Circe (2018), a feminist inversion of The Odyssey. In each book, Miller brings a fresh perspective to ancient tales, re-centering these stories on characters whose voices have been excluded from the narrative for thousands of years. This event was presented live, with a Q&A moderated by Kristen Millares Young, author of Subduction. Although this event has passed, you can still purchase a digital pass through February 3 at 7:30 p.m.
In The Song of Achilles, Miller writes the story of Achilles’ lover, Patroclus—a minor character in The Iliad—creating an intimate and lyric story of queer love. Circe, a retelling of the witch who turns Odysseus’s crew into pigs in The Odyssey, highlights aspects of women’s lives that were excluded from the original tale. Through her process of reimagining these epics, she upends their traditional hierarchies, reminding us of storytelling’s power to move and transform the way we look at the world.
Miller grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She later attended Brown University, where she earned her B.A. and M.A. in Classics. She has taught and tutored Latin, Greek, and Shakespeare to high school students for over fifteen years. She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms.
The Song of Achilles, her first novel, was awarded the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a New York Times bestseller. Miller was also shortlisted for the 2012 Stonewall Writer of the Year.
Miller’s second novel, Circe, was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller, and won the Indies Choice Best Adult Fiction of the Year Award and the Indies Choice Best Audiobook of the Year Award, as well as being shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize for Fiction. Circe also won The Red Tentacle Award, an American Library Association Alex Award (adult books of special interest to teen readers), and the 2018 Elle Big Book Award. It is currently being adapted for a series with HBO Max.
Miller’s novels have been translated into over twenty-five languages, including Dutch, Mandarin, Japanese, Turkish, Arabic and Greek, and her essays have appeared in a number of publications including the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Telegraph, Lapham’s Quarterly and NPR. She currently lives outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Kristen Millares Young, our moderator for the evening, is the author of the novel Subduction, a Paris Review staff pick called “whip-smart” by the Washington Post and a “brilliant debut” by the Seattle Times. Subduction was a finalist for two International Latino Book Awards in 2020. A prize-winning journalist, essayist and editor of Seismic – Seattle, City of Literature, Kristen served as 2018-2020 Prose Writer-in-Residence at Hugo House. Her work appears in the Washington Post, Literary Hub, the Guardian, and the anthologies Latina Outsiders, Pie & Whiskey, and Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19.