The Greek myths are always with us

Once upon a time there was a collection of stories that everybody loved. They involved brave heroes such as Perseus and Theseus defeating fearful monsters like Medusa and the Minotaur. Sometimes they used ingenious gadgets to achieve their goals, a bit like James Bond with his exploding pen. Sometimes they were helped by women who took a fancy to them. Some, like Icarus, failed. Others succeeded but still came to a sticky end – like Oedipus, who solved the riddle of the Sphinx but also killed his dad and married his mum. The point is that these stories were so old they came from a time before writing. There was

A modern Medea: Iron Curtain, by Vesna Goldsworthy, reviewed

Vesna Goldsworthy’s finely wrought third novel explodes into life early on with a shocking scene in which Misha — the boyfriend of our protagonist, Milena Urbanska — returns from a short, tough spell of military service, initiates a game of Russian roulette (‘the only Russian thing I could face right now’) and blows his brains out. It is 1981. Misha and Milena are children of the political elite in an unnamed capital city in the Eastern Bloc. As such, they are afforded privileges their compatriots lack: palatial homes, preferential treatment, western luxuries as seemingly innocuous as cans of Bitter Lemon from Italy and imported tampons, instead of ‘the scratchy home-produced