Book: The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Author: Sin-Leqi-Unninni (literally, "Moon god, accept my plea").
Translated by: N.K. Sandars
Genre: Epic Poem / Historical Fiction.
Summary: Originally the work of an anonymous Babylonian poet who lived more than 3,700 years ago, The Epic of Gilgamesh tells of the heroic exploits of the ruler of the walled city of Uruk. Not content with the immortality conveyed by the renown of his great deeds, Gilgamesh journeys to the ends of the earth and beyond in his search for eternal life, encountering the wise man Uta-napishti, who relates the story of a great flood that swept the earth. This episode and several others in the epic anticipate stories in the Bible and in Homer, to the great interest of biblical and classical scholars. Told with intense feeling and imagination, this masterful tale of love and friendship, duty and death, is more than an object of scholarly concern; it is a vital rendering of universal themes that resonate across the ages and is considered the world's first truly great work of literature (from Amazon.com).
Opinion: I grabbed a copy of this book on my latest trip to the book store this weekend, because it was super small and only cost four dollars (yay!). And, I brought it with me to work to read during my downtime. But, to be honest, I didn't think I would be able to read it. I was worried that the wording would be too impenetrable. I had also heard that the actual text was fragmented and missing 20% + of the actual content. However, I was pleased to find that the copy I picked (similar, but a different publication than the one I linked to on amazon.com) was much more reader-friendly and filled in than I was previously lead to believe. Actually, the story reminded me a lot of Beowulf, though I know it predates Beowulf by thousands of years. Even though it's an ancient book, it deals chiefly with mortality, which is something that is easily identifiable. I'm glad that I was able to read Gilgamesh in my free time and still enjoy it. Admittedly, I did have to look up a few passages on SparkNotes to make sure I was interpreting it correctly (Oh, the shame!), but I still really enjoyed reading it.