03 March 2009


by Michael Faber

Text Publishing. Adult Fiction. Paperback rrp $22.95
Guest Reviewer - Anastasia Gonis

Another interesting and finely crafted offering from the pen of the talented author of seven previous books, including the international bestsellers, The Crimson Petal and the White, and Under the Skin, shortlisted for the Whitbread award.

Theo is a linguist; an Aramaic scholar and research fellow from the Toronto Institute of Classical Studies. He has been sent to a museum in Mosul which has been looted by the Iraqis, to convince the curator to store the remaining hidden treasures within the safety of the Institute for the next five years. A bomb explosion at the entrance of the museum terminates the deal and Theo’s life is sent into an uncontrollable spiral of unexpected events. In his attempt to escape, Theo witnesses the collapse and disintegration of a huge statue, from which nine scrolls of papyrus spew.

Returning home with his find to a broken relationship, and the loss of his job due to his failure in Mosul to secure the deal, Theo translates the scrolls and discovers a fifth gospel in Aramaic; a first-hand account of the death of Jesus written in the first-century by Malchus, a Christian convert.

The subsequent search for a publisher and getting the most money for his book is the easiest part of success for Theo. He is faced with varying responses to his book beginning with bad reviews on the internet which reduce his work to sacrilege. Then there are the other non-believers, the accusers that doubt the scrolls’ authenticity and the motive for the book’s publication.

Although he experiences a successful promotional tour and stays on the bestseller list for weeks, his successes are diminished by the attempt on his life by a wheelchair bound, rifle-bearing protestor, and later a kidnapping by two religious fanatics.

This book is one of The Myth series where famous writers retell a myth ‘in a contemporary and memorable way’.

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