The Bukowski Agency - The Golden Mean

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75,000 words hardcover
Finished books available


US: Knopf, Fall 2010
Canada: Random House, Fall 2009
French Canadian: Editions Alto
Spain: Roca Editorial
France: Editions la Table Ronde
Brazilian Portuguese: Leya Brasil
UK: Atlantic Books
Portugal: Dom Quixote
Croatia: Sareni Ducan
Taiwan: Ye-Ren
Audio: Recorded Books
Turkey: Pegasus Yayinlari
Finland: BTJ
Holland: Ambo/Anthos
Italy: Aliberti Editore
Serbia: Alnari Publishers
Israel: Modan Publishers
Czech language: Albatros Media
Poland: Bellona
Greece: Metaihmio Publishing S.A.
Large print: Thorndike Press


Annabel Lyon (photo: Phillip Chin)
(Photo: Phillip Chin)

Annabel Lyon is the author of Oxygen (stories), The Best Thing for You (novellas), which was nominated for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, All-Season Edie (juvenile novel), and The Golden Mean, which was shortlisted for the Giller Prize, the Governor General's Award, the Ethel Wilson Prize, and the Commonwealth Prize. Winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Prize, The Golden Mean has been translated into fourteen languages and became a #1 bestseller in Canada. Annabel is currently working on a sequel to it. Her latest work for young people, Encore Edie, was released in February 2011 to glowing reviews.

Annabel studied classical music, philosophy, and law and taught piano before she decided to write full-time. She lives on the west coast of Canada outside Vancouver, British Columbia, with her partner and two children, who were born during the eight years she took to write The Golden Mean. She teaches at the Creative Writing Department of the University of British Columbia, from which she received her Master’s Degree in Fine Arts.



The Golden Mean

by Annabel Lyon


“This quietly ambitious and beautifully achieved novel is one of the most convincing historical novels I have ever read. Lyon makes her reader avid for every detail of this strange world, whether domestic or medical or military, and she has steeped herself in the thinking of the time. She makes her characters entirely solid and real, while respecting their otherness, the distance between us. That is what characterised Mary Renault’s novels, and I think that she would have deeply admired this book. [Lyon’s] judgment is sound and true, and the reader trusts her voice from the first paragraph.”  — HILARY MANTEL, winner of the 2009 Man Booker Prize for Fiction

The Golden Mean is more than a brilliant and beautifully told novel: it’s also a profound exploration of moral and philosophical issues that have troubled and perplexed us since Aristotle.”  — RUSSELL BANKS, author of Cloudsplitter

The Golden Mean coverIn 342 BC the philosopher Aristotle was persuaded by his former boyhood chum King Philip of Macedonia to serve as tutor to his son, the prince who has come to be known today as Alexander the Great. Along with his teenage wife and nephew, Aristotle remained in the court for seven years, during which time his ambition led him to participate in the ever-more-sinister intrigues of King Philip's warrior court. But Philip eventually lost interest in him and began to favour others, passing over Aristotle for promotion to more prestigious positions.

Prince Alexander, meanwhile, grew from a bright, affectionate boy to an increasingly powerful and ambitious young man, resentful of his father's bullying and womanizing. Aristotle tried to influence the prince in ethics and right conduct, but he soon realized that his teachings had grown twisted in the young man's mind.The Golden Mean - US cover

Annabel Lyon's masterful prose brings us the intimate details of Aristotle's personality,including his sexuality and his curious malady. As a boy, Aristotle traveled with hisdoctor father and witnessed such things as caesareans performed without anesthetic and headaches cured by drilling holes in skulls. At the court, he becomes close to Alexander'smentally challenged brother, whom he finds a personal challenge to teach. We discover how Aristotle achieved his groundbreaking anatomical drawings, and what happened on the day when his student showed up bearing a severed head.

The Golden Mean - Spanish coverAristotle's disillusionment with his role in court reaches its nadir at the battle of Chaironea, where Philip's victory secures Macedonian dominion over anumber of Greek states, including Athens. Afterwards Aristotle is still not granted amuch-coveted foreign assignment, and he feels like a failure.When the king marries a younger wife, threatening to displace Alexander with a new heir, court politics quickly bring The Golden Mean to a murderous climax.

PRAISE FOR THE GOLDEThe Golden Mean - Brazilian coverN MEAN

“A deeply pondered and very beautiful book.”  — THE NEW REPUBLIC

“A beautifully written and impeccably judged book about Aristotle and the young Alexander.”  — SUNDAY HERALD, Glasgow

“An outstanding example of the [historical novel] genre… Quite simply wonderful, the best novel about the ancient world for some time. She makes the young Alexander completely convincing, attractive, dangerous and disturbed.  — ALLAN MASSIE, author of the novels Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula

“[A] vivid imagining of the encounter between Aristotle and the young Alexander the Great…. Lyon’s evocation of the ancient world is earthy and immediate.  — THE NEW YORKER

“Sensational … [The Golden Mean] hooked me as a first novel should, carried me along and left me determined to read whatever the author writes next.”  —

The Golden Mean - Taiwan cover“A startling first novel … Through Aristotle’s eyes, Lyon presents a remote world in such vivid and intimate detail that this alien terrain becomes uncannily familiar…  — THE BOSTON GLOBE, Anna Mundow

“[Lyon] has shaped history into a narrative not only gripping, but also accessible and poignant, even tender…. Here we have a novel that is brave enough to raise the universal questions about how a man should live his life.  — THE BOSTON GLOBE

“Ancient Greece, in all its gusto, gore, and glory, springs vividly to life in Lyon’s pitch-perfect paean to Aristotle and Alexander the Great…. Although Lyon’s portrait of Alexander’s fledgling mental and martial acumen rings true, her ability to penetrate the mind and convincingly articulate the thoughts and emotions of one of the greatest intellects of all time is absolutely astounding.  — BOOKLIST

“As authoritative and compelling as Mary Renault’s renowned novels set in the ancient world. One hopes we may learn more about Lyon’s immeasurably brilliant, unflappably human Aristotle.”  — KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review

“Lyon... brings 4th-century Greece to startling life [and] richly imagines Aristotle's stint as Macedon's royal academician, who gave Alexander the intellectual tools to not only rule but to civilize.  — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

The Golden Mean - UK cover“This is an outstanding novel, admirably structured, economical and evocative, keenly intelligent, amusing and sad – a book in which imagination and intellect are yoked in harmony  — THE SCOTSMAN

“Extraordinary. . . . It’s entertaining to watch for the places in the novel where Lyon integrates the development of Aristotle’s thought and the seeds of his greatest works. . . . The Golden Mean gives us a life of Aristotle, and a life of Alexander, that we can feel, rather than just hear. . . . Lyon’s powerfully imagined novel deserves its critical and popular success, as it effectively dramatizes key moments in the story of Aristotle’s new loves, and it’s also a lot of fun to read.”  — OPEN LETTERS MONTHLY

“Lyon tells [the] story fluidly, and without formality — language is rich in description … Aristotle’s thoughts and observations are often beautiful…”  —

“Highly recommended.”  —

The Golden Mean is filled with charming dialogue, colorful and dynamic characters, lush description, moments of deep sadness, love, sex, humor (often dark), and so much more…”  —

“Canadian Annabel Lyon has written a clever, well-documented and timely novel about Aristotle, Alexander the Great’s teacher.  — LUIS ALBERTO DE CUENCA, ABC Cultural (Spain)

With a subtle dose of humor and ironic anachronisms, Lyon has written a great historical novel of surprising originality.  — ERNESTO AYALA-DIP, El Correo (Spain)

The Golden Mean - Canadian paperbackThis work’s achievements are its audacity and originality, placing it among the works of the new tradition of sensitive historical fiction.  — ALICIA MISHARI, Que Leer (Spain)

“Lyon draws the curtain back on the smoke-filled huts and palace chambers that shaped the lives of these two great men, whose mutual admiration and intellect transformed civilization. It's historical fiction at its finest.  — LOUISVILLE COURIER-JOURNAL

“The 4th century BC and the youth of Alexander the Great are marvellously re-imagined in Lyon’s justifiably garlanded novel . . . The daily intrigues of the court, the visceral aspects of battle, philosophical discussion, and Aristotle’s household are all evoked in measured, burnished prose, which combines thrilling immediacy with a stately timelessness.”  — THE GUARDIAN, London

“Lyon [has] established herself as this generation’s answer to Alice Munro. A master of wordplay and storytelling, Lyon takes readers deep into the hearts and secret desires of her characters.”  — THE VANCOUVER SUN

“While no one can ever really know how Aristotle spoke or thought, it’s to Lyon’s considerable credit that The Golden Mean convinces you you’re in the great man’s mind. Questions of philosophy, spirituality, sexuality and politics are all posed here, but in a narrative voice that’s sensually charged, keenly intelligent and darkly—sometimes very darkly—funny.”  — THE TORONTO STARThe Golden Mean - French Canadian cover

“It takes chutzpah to make your main characters Aristotle and Alexander the Great, but Lyon pulls it off; she has the gift of finding the pulse of the ancient world and bringing it back to glorious life … gripping, with a powerful sense of time and place.  — THE TIMES, London

“A cornucopia of vivid impressions of the ancient world. Upon finishing the novel, I was struck by a feeling of emptiness, loath to close the door on Lyon’s time machine.  — THE TIMES, London

“[A] story that gives us the classical world with everyday liveliness and narrative forcewithout every sacrificing intellectual integrity and historical accuracy … Splendidly intelligent and entertaining.  — NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO, “All Things Considered”

“The harsh light of the classical world is prone to bleach away all humanity and leave only the bare outline of myth. Not so in Annabel Lyon’s The Golden Mean, in which Aristotle is haunted by agonies of the flesh and spirit, and Alexander, his most famous pupil, struggles to be Olympian despite a murderous nature and merely human powers. We witness their brilliance emerging through their pain and ignorance.”  — ZACHARY MASON, author of The Lost Books of the Odyssey

The Golden Mean - French cover“Within the pages of The Golden Mean the dusty dead are resurrected. Annabel Lyon brings Aristotle—flawed and brilliant and, unexpectedly, human—back into the world. An exhilarating reminder that we are not very far from history. Lyon is an extremely gifted writer.”  — STEPHEN GALLOWAY, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo

“Few writers would dare to employ Aristotle as their narrator but Annabel Lyon has done exactly this in her extraordinary novel The Golden Mean. In thoughtful and controlled prose that never fails to grip, Lyon presents an unexpected portrait of the young Alexander the Great, a fascinating recreation of Plato’s Academy and brings the ancient world back to life with a splendour I haven’t seen since I, Claudius. A triumph of erudition and story-telling.”  — JOHN BOYNE, author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

“Historical fiction at its best. Whether posing the eternally relevant question of what it means to live a virtuous life, detailing the gory details of an ancient battle scene or probing the relationship between master and student, Lyon authoritatively evokes a fabled time and place in the urbane and dry voice of the man judged the smartest of his age.”  — MONTREAL GAZETTE

“This historical novel adds a refreshingly human dimension to ancient Greek civilization and the world-changing ideas that it produced.”  — WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

“Lyon must be applauded for a daring and challenging approach to fiction.”The Golden Mean - Serbian cover  — EDMONTON JOURNAL

“...a taut, polished novel that will hold your attention from start to finish. It is at times funny, thought-provoking, sensual and suspenseful.”  — EDMONTON JOURNAL

“[An] audacious attempt to create a flesh and blood Aristotle, with intimate glances into his psyche...”  — NATIONAL POST

“[A] crisply written, painstakingly researched book, and Lyon ably inhabits ‘the greatest mind of all time’.”  — THE GLOBE AND MAIL

“I absolutely loved The Golden Mean. Annabel Lyon brings the philosophers and warriors, artists and whores, princes and slaves of ancient Macedonia alive, with warmth, wit and poignancy. Impeccably researched and brilliantly told, this novel is utterly convincing.”  — MARIE PHILLIPS, author of Gods Behaving Badly

“An exhilarating book, both brilliant and profound. Annabel Lyon’s spare, fluid, utterly convincing prose pulls us headlong into Aristotle’s original mind. Only Lyon’s great-hearted intelligence could have imagined and achieved the brave ambition of this book. Vital, ferocious and true, The Golden Mean is an oracular vision of the past made present.”  — MARINA ENDICOTT, author of Good to a Fault

The Golden Mean - Dutch coverThe Golden Mean, so full of intellect, is a pleasure to read. If excellence is our standard, then this novel will certainly flourish.”  — DAVID BERGEN, Giller-winning author of The Time in Between

“In Lyon’s clever hands, more than two thousand years of difference are made to disappear and Aristotle feels as real and accessible as the man next door. With this powerful, readable act of the imagination. Lyon proves that she can go anywhere it pleases her to go.”  — FRED STENSON , author of The Great Karoo

“No pretense: this is not about developing the system of thought for a man who would largely influence Western philosophy, but about giving life to otherwise frozen historical figures.”  — LA CROIX, France

“This novel, a winner of multiple prizes, is as colourful as it is tasty.”  — LE MONDE, France

“Annabel Lyon offers us a priceless waking dream: life with the master of logic. She practices the art of a magician, and each minute of the spectacle must be savoured.”  — LA VIE, France

“Although marked by tragic events . . . the novel is like calm water, as is the spirit of Aristotle himself as he attempts to moderate extremes, calm illogical passions, and find the golden mean.”  — LIBÉRATION, France

“Her first novel is a marvel of refinement and intelligence: it is certainly not every day that we are invited, as readers, to walk the streets of Pella arm-in-arm with two of the greatest geniuses of their time.”  — LE FIGARO MAGAZINE, France

“An ambitious subject, mastered stunningly in a debut novel . . . . (Lyon) succeeds in transporting us to an earthy antiquity.”  — ELLE ORIENTAL, France

“Annabel Lyon did not create a Hollywood version of ancient Greece, and her novel is not a costume drama. We see life as it really was in that era.”  — PARIS MATCH, France

“This book has received multiple prizes in Canada. It merits the attention of all those who are interested in philosophy and who know that it goes hand-in-hand with life.”  — MONDE ET VIE, France


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