Medusa’s Ankles Fiction Book Review: Selected Stories by AS Byatt

Arts & Culture

Seasoned Booker Prize winner A.S. Byatt (A Possession: a Romance) released a new collection of short stories last year titled Medusa’s Ankles: Selected Stories. In this collection is the “short” story (just under 100 pages) The Djinn in the eye of the nightingalewhich the film 3000 Years of Longing (premiering in Sarasota this weekend) is based on.

Byatt’s writing is super scholarly and in The Djinn in the eye of the nightingale, his allusions include Chaucer, Freud, architect John Turtle Wood, to name a few. Not only does she sprinkle intricate icons into her stories, but she also speaks poetically of social customs; misogyny in literature, women’s and society’s fixation on the female form, sexual abuse, and the difficulty of having a middle-aged relationship.

Even better, Byatt also inserts “fun”, a comedic occurrence with tennis player Boris Becker, Perholt’s love of posh hotel rooms, and a moving scene of intimacy between Perholt and his djinn.

The premise of this particular short story is delightfully fun. Gillian Perholt, a narratologist in her fifties, purchases a beautifully crafted piece of glass containing a genie or jinn who grants her three wishes. I won’t spoil his choices, but reading the story was like stepping into a fantasy world, while being grounded in Perholt’s real-life lifestyle.

Luckily for those looking for a beach read or on a budget, the paperback version of Medusa’s Ankles: Selected Stories releases September 6 and is available for pre-order at or 9/6/22 in-store at BookStore1 located at 117 S. Pineapple Ave. Sarasota FL. For those interested in a community discussion, 3000 Years of Longing will host a conference this Sunday evening at 7am at the Burns Court Theatre.

Ankle of Medusa: Selected Stories by AS Byatt, ISBN #: 9780593466858.

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