The Invisible Library

Thorvald Steen

Translated by James Anderson



5 x 8 inches, 176pp. June 2018

ISBN : 9780857425416

Rs  499.00 (HB)
$21.50 (HB)
£16.99 (HB)

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The year is 323 BCE. King Alexander of Macedonia—Alexander the Great—lies paralysed by poison in his palace in Babylon. He is 32 years old, had Aristotle as a mentor and is the greatest military commander the world has ever seen. At the other end of the palace, Phyllis, a cook for Alexander’s army, sits locked in a room, arrested on suspicion of being the poisoner. All of her adult life she has lived in the field—and for a long period of time was Alexander’s lover.


Who has poisoned the king? Phyllis is allowed to live as long as she writes down everything she knows about Alexander. She tells a brutal story of the violent daily life in the war, about the planning of the expansion into the Arabian Peninsula, about an invisible library containing marvellous manuscripts and discoveries, and about the passion between a cook and a king.


With The Invisble Library, Thorvald Steen interweaves known and unknown, relying on facts until they run out, then building his story on what is probable, to tell the story of a little-known period in the life of one of the most renowned figures in history. The result is an existential and inspired novel that goes to the heart of the human experience—who are we in war, in love, during the final days of life?

Thorvald Steen has published a wide range of novels, plays, collections of poems and short stories, children's books and essays. His Norwegian breakthrough came in 1992 with a cycle of poems Ilden, and shortly afterwards, he achieved international recognition with his creative historical novels. In 2006, Steen wrote the coming-of-age novel The Weight of Snow Crystals, followed in 2008 with the freestanding sequel The Longest Leap .


James Anderson’s literary translations from the Norwegian include Berlin Poplars by Anne B. Ragde, Nutmeg by Kristin Valla, and several books by Jostein Gaarder.