cover image The Liars' Gospel

The Liars' Gospel

Naomi Alderman. Little, Brown, $25.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-23278-4

In her third novel, English author Alderman%E2%80%94whose debut Disobedience won the 2006 Orange Prize for New Writers%E2%80%94imagines an alternative history of Jesus from the perspective of those close to him who knew him as Yehoshuah, the wandering Jewish preacher. Yehoshuah's mother recalls an inquisitive boy who became "a traitor, a rabble-leader, a rebel, a liar and a pretender to the throne," and his disciple Iehuda, initially impressed by Yehoshuah's teachings and miraculous ability to heal the sick, ultimately loses faith and betrays him. In Jerusalem, the High Priest Caiaphas struggles to maintain peace between the Romans and the Jews while the Jewish rebel Bar-Avo incites war against the Roman conquerors. Alderman vibrant descriptions of life in Judea, from the animal sacrifices at the temple in Jerusalem to the bloody battles against Roman rule, richly illustrate a time of tyranny and suffering, as well as a people in desperate need of faith. Through haunting prose Alderman immerses the reader into the lives of these characters, and by endowing legendary personae with human vulnerabilities and passions, she transforms an ancient story into her own engaging meditation on power, oppression, and belief. Agent: Veronique Baxter, David Higham Associates (UK) (Mar.)