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Delphi by Clare Pollard
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Delphi

A Novel

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Narrator Emma Lowndes

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Length 4 hours 11 minutes
Language English
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A Guardian Best Book of 2022 * “Clever and surprising.” —BuzzFeed * “Brilliantly funny.” —San Francisco Chronicle * “Ingenious.”—The Millions * “Powerful.” —Harper’s Bazaar

A captivating debut novel about a classics professor immersed in research for a new book on a prophecy in the ancient world who confronts chilling questions about her own life just as the pandemic descends—for readers of Jenny Offill, Ottessa Moshfegh, and Sally Rooney.

Covid-19 has arrived in London, and the entire world quickly succumbs to the surreal, chaotic mundanity of screens, isolation, and the disasters big and small that have plagued recent history. As our unnamed narrator—a classics professor immersed in her studies of ancient prophecies—navigates the tightening grip of lockdown, a marriage in crisis, and a ten-year-old son who seems increasingly unreachable, she becomes obsessed with predicting the future. Shifting her focus from chiromancy (prophecy by palm reading) to zoomancy (prophecy by animal behavior) to oenomancy (prophecy by wine), she fails to notice the future creeping into the heart of her very own home, and when she finally does, the threat has already breached the gates.

Brainy and ominous, imaginative and funny, Delphi is a snapshot and a time capsule—it vividly captures our current moment and places our reality in the context of myth. Clare Pollard has delivered one of our first great pandemic novels, a mesmerizing and richly layered story about how we keep on living in a world that is ever-more uncertain and absurd.

Clare Pollard is an award-winning poet and playwright based in London. She is the author of five poetry collections and the former editor of the Modern Poetry in Translation magazine. Her acclaimed first novel, Delphi, was a Guardian Best Book of 2022. The Modern Fairies is her second novel.

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Reviews

"Emma Lowndes brings the unnamed narrator, a classics scholar, to life as she tries to balance the needs of her husband and 10-year-old son with her own needs. She is studying ancient prophecies and attempting to predict the future. In a detached academic voice, Lowndes defines 65 ancient methods of prophecy while interweaving Greek mythology, the surreal aspects of isolation during lockdown, and the impact of other global events. Listeners hear the scholar’s resentment and her husband’s defensiveness as he shirks parenting responsibilities. Rae, the tarot reader, sounds young as she pronounces her vague observations with an inflection that turns them into questions. Many listeners will identify with the protagonist’s stream-of-consciousness reflections on our lives during Covid." Expand reviews
Celebrate our 10th Anniversary with giveaways, merch, and more! Learn more