Sweet Briar will host a virtual Q&A with Madeline Miller, author of the New York Times No. 1 best-selling novel “Circe,” at 4 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 7, in the 1948 Theater in the Fitness and Athletics Center. The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited.
Miller was scheduled to visit campus in person that day, but had to adjust her plans due to her novel’s snowballing popularity — “Circe” is currently being made into an HBO miniseries. However, she will be at Sweet Briar in the spring for a joint reading with Emily Wilson, whose translation of “The Odyssey” was chosen alongside “Circe” as the College’s Common Read for 2019-2020.
“Both books are full of magic and mystery and monsters and morality,” said Carrie Brown, director of the Center for Creativity, Design and the Arts. “They delve into the classical story of Odysseus’s return from the Trojan War with fresh insights about the experiences of women once seen only in the shadows of the famous epic.”
The New York Times called “Circe” a “bold and subversive retelling of the goddess’s story that manages to be both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right.” In the Washington Post, Ron Charles wrote, “We know how everything here turns out — we’ve known it for thousands of years — and yet in Miller’s lush reimagining, the story feels harrowing and unexpected. The feminist light she shines on these events never distorts their original shape; it only illuminates details we hadn’t noticed before.”
Miller, who grew up in New York City and Philadelphia, attended Brown University, earning a bachelor’s and master’s in classics. She has taught and tutored Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students for the past 20 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 also a New York Times best-seller. Miller was shortlisted for the 2012 Stonewall Writer of the Year. Her second novel, “Circe,” is currently short-listed for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and won the Indies Choice Best Adult Fiction of the Year Award and the Indies Choice Best Audiobook of the Year Award. It was also given The Red Tentacle Award, an American Library Association Alex Award and the 2018 Elle Big Book Award. Miller’s essays have appeared in a number of publications including the Guardian, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Telegraph, Lapham’s Quarterly and NPR.org. She currently lives outside Philadelphia.
Free copies of both Common Read books were made available to students, faculty and staff at the end of the spring semester. In addition to the readings, first-year students talked about the books during orientation, and faculty have been leading book club-style conversations over the lunch hour in the dining hall each week throughout the fall semester.
For more information, email Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.