By Niall Williams
(Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781596914674, 288pp.)
Publication Date: February 5, 2008
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In the tradition of Jim Crace’s Quarantine and Anita Diamant’s The Red Tent, John is a stunning, lyrical reimagining of John the Apostle in the final years of his life, by the critically acclaimed and bestselling author of Four Letters of Love.At a time when Americans remain skeptical about religion but still thirst for spiritual fulfillment, Niall Williams’s extraordinary and masterful new novel reveals a universally appealing message of hope and love. In the years following the death of Jesus Christ, John the Apostle, now a frail, blind old man, lives in forced exile on the desolate island of Patmos with a small group of his disciples. Together, the group has endured their banishment, but after years awaiting Christ’s return, fissures form within their faith, and, inevitably, one of John’s followers disavows Christ’s divinity and breaks away from the community, threatening to change the course of Christianity. When the Roman emperor lifts the banishment of Christians, John and his followers are permitted to return to Ephesus, a chaotic world of competing religious sects where Christianity is in danger of vanishing. It is against this turbulent background—and inspired by Jesus’s radical message of love and forgiveness—that John comes to dictate his Gospel. Immensely impressive—and based on actual historical events—John is at once an ambitious and provocative reimagining of the last surviving apostle and a powerful look at faith and how it lives and dies in the hearts of men.
Niall Williams was born in Dublin. He is a playwright and the author of Four Letters of Love, As It Is in Heaven, The Fall of Light, and Only Say the Word. He lives in County Clare with his wife, Christine, and their two children.
In "John" ($25, Bloomsbury). Irish author Niall Williams spent four years researching the last days of John the Apostle. He used that information as the structure for a novel about what a frail, blind John and his followers might have done during their exile to an island and return to a world of religious sects. What if this John was the one to have written the gospel of John? What would be the invariable clashes between faith and doubt under stress? Williams' lyrical writing and sense of place is a plus although there are a few times when a reader might just want to move on a little more quickly.—The Olympian
“ Readership is guaranteed where biblical sagas like The Red Tent (1997) and Pilate’s Wife (2006) enjoyed popular success.”—Booklist
"Irish novelist Williams takes spiritual issues seriously—and continues to write compellingly about them."—Kirkus Reviews
"Plenty of imagination and occasionally grandiloquent prose….beautifully portrays the Christ-followers’ loneliness as they yearn for the return of their Messiah….fresh and elegant….This novel will appeal to readers who like imaginative and gritty sagas of the lives of key Christians in the early church as well as those who value lyricism." —Publishers Weekly