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Gilgamesh by Joan London
Edith Clark lives on a poor farm in rural Australia in the 1930s, when she's surprised a visit from her cousin, Leopold, and his Armenian friend, Aram, as they return from an archaeological dig in Iraq. Their stories about the outside world and the myth of Gilgamesh light a spark under Edith to see life outside her small corner of the world. She falls for Aram, and after he and Leopold leave, gives birth to his son. Two years later, scorned by her home town and longing for love, she leaves Australia with her son to go to Armenia to find Aram. She sees her quest in the mode of Gilgamesh, but Armenia is not the romantic locale she imagines, but a part of the Soviet empire becoming enmeshed in World War II. Edith's quest, is a search for love, and for home. This debut novel by Joan London has received high praise from most reviewers. The New York Times says, "Reading Gilgamesh is like watching a magician who can do many things rapidly, expertly and all at once. It's impossible not to admire the novel's proficiency and its author's promise."