This is longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013. Colm Toibin's The Testament of Mary is a short, powerful novel about one of the most famous mothers in history. From the author of Brooklyn, in a voice that is both tender and filled with rage, The Testament of Mary tells the story of a cataclysmic event which led to an overpowering grief. For Mary ...
This is longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2013. Colm Toibin's The Testament of Mary is a short, powerful novel about one of the most famous mothers in history. From the author of Brooklyn, in a voice that is both tender and filled with rage, The Testament of Mary tells the story of a cataclysmic event which led to an overpowering grief. For Mary, her son has been lost to the world, and now, living in exile and in fear, she tries to piece together the memories of the events that led to her son's brutal death. To her he was a vulnerable figure, surrounded by men who could not be trusted, living in a time of turmoil and change. As her life and her suffering begin to acquire the resonance of myth, Mary struggles to break the silence surrounding what she knows to have happened. In her effort to tell the truth in all its gnarled complexity, she slowly emerges as a figure of immense moral stature as well as a woman from history rendered now as fully human. Praise for The Testament of Mary: "This is a short book, but it is as dense as a diamond. It is as tragic as a Spanish pieta, but it is completely heretical...Toibin maintains all the dignity of Mary without subscribing to the myths that have accumulated around her". (Edmund White, Irish Times). "Depicting the harrowing losses and evasions that can go on between mothers and sons...Toibin creates a reversed Pieta: he holds the mother in his arms". (Independent). "A beautiful and daring work ...it takes its power from the surprise of its language, its almost shocking characterization". (Mary Gordon, New York Times). Colm Toibin was born in Ireland in 1955. He is the author of six novels, including The Blackwater Lightship, The Master, both of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and Brooklyn, which won the Costa Novel Award, and two collections of stories, Mothers and Sons and The Empty Family.
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Longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, Colm Toibon?s novel relates the story of Jesus Christ?s crucifixion and the days afterwards through the eyes of his ?mother?, Mary. While in hiding after the killing of her son she also tells of her view on events in the life of her son; the Wedding at Cana, the raising of Lazarus amongst others.
At approximately 30,000 words and only 104 pages long, what The Testament of Mary lacks in size it makes up for in the sheer power of its vision and imagination.
The book conveys the anger, frustration and loss that a mother feels after having lost a child. Not only that but witnessing the death of her son in such a barbaric and ritualistic way. This loss sees Mary only referring to her son as ?him? or ?our son? or ?my son? as she cannot bring herself to call him by the names that are used by His followers; followers who now watch over Mary and seek to protect the legacy of her son.
If you are a non-religious person like me don?t let the novel?s subject matter blind you to what is a truly stunning book. This is a novel that works on so many aesthetically designed levels that to simply categorize it as a religious novel is to miss all the other heavenly beauty that sweeps across this thought provoking novel.
Having not yet read the rest of the Man Booker longlist I won?t speculate as to whether it will take the prize but for the moment it should at least make the short list.
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