Ancient Minstrel
Jim Harrison

Book cover image

Narrated By: Mark Bramhall, Xe Sands, Keith Szarabajka

Duration: 6 hours and 37 minutes

What to expect

New York Times bestselling author Jim Harrison is one of our most beloved and acclaimed writers, adored by both readers and critics. In The Ancient Minstrel, Harrison delivers three novellas that highlight his phenomenal range as a writer, shot through with his trademark wit and keen insight into the human condition.

Harrison has tremendous fun with his own reputation in the title novella, about an aging writer in Montana who spars with his estranged wife, with whom he still shares a home; weathers the slings and arrows of literary success; and tries to cope with the sow he buys on a whim and the unplanned litter of piglets that follow soon after. In “Eggs,” a Montana woman reminisces about staying in London with her grandparents and collecting eggs at their country house. Years later, having never had a child, she attempts to do so. And in “The Case of the Howling Buddhas,” retired Detective Sunderson—a recurring character from Harrison’s New York Times bestsellers The Great Leader and The Big Seven—is hired as a private investigator to look into a bizarre cult that achieves satori by howling along with howler monkeys at the zoo.

Fresh, incisive, and endlessly entertaining, with moments of both profound wisdom and sublime humor, The Ancient Minstrel is an exceptional reminder of why Jim Harrison is one of the most cherished and important writers at work today.


Fiction: general and literary, Short stories

Listen to a sample

“A trio full of [Harrison’s] trademark humor and insight.”

Boston Globe

“These novellas traverse Harrison’s familiar turf: the human relation to nature, how we live in it and consume it, how we believe we can rise above our natural urges and how often that makes us fools, and how nature’s mortal effects on humans always win in the end.”

Tampa Bay Times

“A blend of humor (much of it bawdy), sex (ditto), and observations on the human condition that verge on the profound. When reading Mr. Harrison, it’s not uncommon to guffaw one minute and go all transcendental the next.”

Washington Times

“Full of grace and humor…A fitting marker for Harrison’s life work.”

New West

“Jim Harrison’s novellas are always on point.”


“Three very different pieces with autobiographical elements in common…Grand entertainments all and a pleasure.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“One of his loosest and most playful books…witty and inspired.”

Booklist (starred review)

“Three narrators interpret Harrison’s distinctive voice and outlook, and each conveys perfectly the contrary and carefully balanced elements that make up the three central characters. The individual stories are mainly third-person narrative with little dialogue or sustained action—making the narrator’s voice that much more important and defining. Mark Bramhall…and Keith Szarabajka bring to maximum effect Harrison’s randy old-man humor and the verbal richness of his style. Xe Sands, working with a quieter and more nuanced story, captures most effectively the intricate bond between people and their livestock. Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.”


“One of our grand old writers, Harrison has a way with novellas…and these pieces are classic.”

Library Journal

“It is fitting that for his final book, Jim Harrison return[ed] to the novella, a form that he spent more than three decades breathing fresh life into. The Ancient Minstrel, a collection of two novellas and one longish short story, is the author unadorned, warty and ruminative as ever.”