cover image Lazarus


Alain Absire. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $19.95 (230pp) ISBN 978-0-15-149250-3

Among the recorded miracles worked by Jesus in his public ministry is the resurrection from the grave of his friend Lazarus, brother of Martha and Mary, at whose home the prophet received warm hospitality. What happened to Lazarus after he was awakened from the ""great sleep'' is not known, but is imaginatively reconstructed here in this provocative novel that takes us inside the house in Bethany where his ``fleshless body and the smell of damp earth still on him'' repulse Lazarus's young wife, Susannah. Soon Lazarus finds his ``half-life'' unbearable. He is caught between his own unwillingness to be a living witness to the power of the Nazarene and political pressures that pit him against the Roman establishment. Lazarus's quest for inner peace is a tortuous search reaching from the event on Calvary to the destruction of the great temple in Jerusalem where his faith is finally evoked. In an innovative embellishment of the simple biblical story, Absire uses spare, contemporary prose to paint a humanly vibrant backdrop from which a transcendent faith emerges. (March)