Murder in Byzantium

A Novel

Julia Kristeva. Translated by C. Jon Delogu

Columbia University Press

Murder in Byzantium

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Pub Date: April 2008

ISBN: 9780231136372

264 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $26.95£21.00

Pub Date: January 2006

ISBN: 9780231136365

264 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $80.00£62.00

Murder in Byzantium

A Novel

Julia Kristeva. Translated by C. Jon Delogu

Columbia University Press

In this absorbing, suspenseful novel Julia Kristeva combines social satire, medieval history, philosophy, psychoanalytic theory, and autobiography within a gruesome murder mystery. Murder in Byzantium deftly moves from eleventh-century Europe, wracked by the turbulence of the First Crusade, to the sun-dappled, cultural wasteland of present-day Santa Varvara, threatened by religious cults, gangs, and a serial killer on the loose.

This killer is murdering members of a dubious religious sect, the New Pantheon, and leaving a mysterious figure eight drawn on their corpses. Meanwhile, Sebastian Chrest-Jones, a noted professor of human migrations, clandestinely writing a novel about the Byzantine princess-historian Anna Comnena, disappears on a quest to learn more about an ancestor who roamed across Europe to Byzantium during the First Crusade. Kristeva's recurring characters, detective Northrop Rilsky and the French journalist Stephanie Delacour, step in and desperately try to piece together the two-part mystery in the midst of their unexpected love affair.

In the tradition of Umberto Eco, Susan Sontag, and Ian McEwan, Kristeva skillfully weaves philosophical and critical ideas into her fiction. Peering into the mores, obsessions, and excesses of contemporary society, Kristeva offers an engrossing portrait of Santa Varvara, a paradoxical place of sunshine and pollution where skeletons lurk in the closets of politicians and oil company executives. Her descriptions of the First Crusade and the Byzantine Empire vividly evoke a distant past while speaking to such contemporary concerns as immigration, fundamentalism, terrorism, and the East-West divide. Murder in Byzantium is also the only work in which Kristeva explores her Bulgarian roots. In the midst of this rich, multilayered historical novel, Kristeva also presents three stunning, closely observed, and interlocking portraits of characters struggling with loss and emptiness in their personal histories and day-to-day lives.
This is a novel of which we have not seen the like since Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose. Bernard-Henri Levy, Le Point
Julia Kristeva gives us a stimulating, joyous book. In a word, a great Byzantine novel. Christine Rousseau, Le Monde
Readers will enjoy this concoction, which falls squarely in the Eco/Perez-Reverte tradition of mystery with a moral. Kirkus
This is no 'novel'....It is inflammatory, argumentative, ranting, full of history, prose suggestion, education... and a relay of truth. Tony Gurney, New Criminologist
There are philosophical observations, trenchant comments and deep historical events in this book, but it's also a lot of old-fashioned fun. Margaret Cannon, Globe and Mail
It's a book chock-full of ideas and experiments. Irish Times
Kristeva doesn't skimp on plot or suspense... Buy it for the Dan Brown fan in your life. Matt Thorne, The Independent Online Edition
Murder in Byzantium is an intriguing and bold venture... A real Kristevan joy ride. Adi Drori-Avraham, The Liberal

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About the Author

Julia Kristeva is a renowned psychoanalyst, critic, and professor of linguistics at the Université de Paris VII. She is the author of many acclaimed works and novels, including The Samurai, The Old Man and the Wolves, and Possessions, and is the recipient of the Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought and the Holberg International Memorial Prize.C. Jon Delogu is professor of English at the Université de Lyon III-Jean Moulin.