Glorious Exploits

GLORIOUS EXPLOITS featured in the Irish Sunday Independent and was picked as the Bookseller book of the month for its publication in January. US Rights were acquired by Henry Holt & Co, who will publish in March.

It’s 412 BC, and Athens’ invasion of Sicily has failed catastrophically. Thousands of Athenian soldiers are held captive in the quarries of Syracuse, starving, dejected, and hanging on by the slimmest of threads.

Lampo and Gelon are local potters, young men with no work and barely two obols to rub together. When they take to visiting the nearby quarry, they discover prisoners who will, in desperation, recite lines from the plays of Euripides for scraps of bread and a scattering of olives.

And so an idea is born: the men will put on Medea in the quarry. A proper performance to be sung of down the ages. Because after all, you can hate the Athenians for invading your territory, but still love their poetry.

But as the audacity of their enterprise dawns on them, it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish between enemies and friends. As the performance draws near, the men will find their courage tested in ways they could never have imagined …

FERDIA LENNON was born in Dublin to an Irish mother and Libyan father. He holds a BA in History and Classics from University College Dublin and an MA in Prose Fiction from the University of East Anglia. His short stories have appeared in publications such as the Irish Times and the Stinging Fly. In 2019 and 2021, he received a Literature Bursary Award from the Arts Council of Ireland. After spending many years in Paris, he now lives in Norwich with his wife and son.


“Bold and totally unexpected, I loved this book” Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain

“A very special, very clever, very entertaining novel” Roddy Doyle, author of Paddy Clarke, Ha Ha Ha

“Bold and totally unexpected, I loved this book. A brilliant novel about friendship, the healing power of art, and why we must fight for our dreams. I was hooked from the first page” Douglas Stuart, author of Shuggie Bain

“In At Swims-Two-Birds, Flann O’Brien gave us cowboys riding through Dublin. Now, Ferdia Lennon gives us modern-day Dubliners living among the ancient Greeks. This is a very special, very clever, very entertaining novel!” Roddy Doyle

“As thrilling for me as the first time I picked up a Kevin Barry novel. Glorious Exploits is exuberant, funny, lyrical and profoundly moving. It is, quite simply, a rare beauty” Sarah Winman, author of Still Life

“Glorious Exploits stinks of misery, despair, love, war, poetry, reckless ambition, terrible failure, and glorious triumph. It’s a novel thick with the stuff of the Classics, in other words. A delicious treat of a read. I loved it” Jon McGregor

“With all the blunt humanity of Roddy Doyle, Glorious Exploits is a vividly conjured vision of the past. Madly ambitious, cathartic like all great tragedy, but shockingly funny too, Ferdia Lennon’s outstandingly original début is just glorious” Emma Donoghue, author of Room

“What a voice! What a story! A darkly funny double act from Lampo and Gelon, sandwiched in between the transformative experience of theatre and forgiving your enemies. I loved it from the first line” Claire Fuller

“Sublime. Pitch-perfect dialogue, a fast-moving story that is both dark and lyrically beautiful, tragic and funny in equal measure. Glorious Exploits is an astonishingly original and gripping story of brotherhood, war and art. Ferdia Lennon is a fierce new talent.” Rebecca Stott, author of In the Days of Rain

“A glorious thunderbastard, with a unique, stark voice that is expertly drawn. It is cheeky, contemplative and sly with an outrageous sense of humour and a massive heart. Lennon beats you with a club then whispers you poetry. It is harsh and fun in a way that few other books are … A book like this is long overdue and very welcome. Thank the Gods.” Rory Gleeson, author of Rockadoon Shore

“Glorious Exploits is an agonising exploration of the cost of violence, for both its winners and losers. It is also a reminder of how dangerous and radical the making of art can be, as the attempt to stage Medea with prisoners-of-war in 412 BC comes to represent war’s opposite. This perfect first novel is a tragicomic masterpiece. Ferdia Lennon has created a story worthy of the Athenians: mortal, maddening, heart-mending.” Clare Pollard, author of Delphi

“What a truly magnificent novel this is: in turns riotous, brutal and deeply affecting. I am in no doubt that Ferdia Lennon is the real deal. His captivating storytelling resonates with all the beauty of Euripides’ plays.” Imogen Hermes Gowar, author of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock