Thursday, December 18, 2014

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NY1 teams with contributors from The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, and Essence Magazine to review the latest books and book-related trends.

The Book Reader: 'The Liar's Gospel'

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Bari Weiss of The Wall Street Journal reports for NY1 on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."

The History Channel's 10-hour special on the Bible was one of the most-watched cable series of 2013, so it's no surprise that the producers have decided to take the story of Jesus to the big screen. This month, "Son of God" opens in movie theaters around the country.

However, for those interested in a far more provocative, complex portrait of the life of Jesus, consider buying Naomi Alderman's book, "The Liar's Gospel," one of last year's most overlooked novels.

Many other writers have mined the Good Book as fodder for historical fiction, but most of those novelists were Christian. Alderman is a British Jew, fluent in Hebrew as well as Latin, and clearly well-versed in the Bible and other ancient historical texts, which are cleverly referenced in the book. The Jesus she offers up is a flawed healer and spiritual seeker, one of many in ancient Judea.

As the title of the book indicates, "The Liar's Gospel" is a manifesto against fundamentalism and the idea that there is one singular truth. That's why the story is told by four different narrators: Jesus' mother Miryam (or Mary), Judas, Caiaphas the high priest, and a young Jewish rebel named Bar-Avo (or Barabbas). Through their eyes, she tries to help explain why a very human Jesus was turned into the Son of God.

"Storytellers," Alderman writes, "know that people enjoy tales that explain to them the origin of things, the way things come to be the way they are. This story is no different. Every story has an author, some teller of lies."

I couldn't put this book down. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP