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Fiction Religious


A Novel

by (author) Nino Ricci

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Initial publish date
May 2003
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Feb 2003
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    May 2003
    List Price

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Out of print

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Set in a remote corner of the Roman Empire during a period of political unrest and spiritual uncertainty, Testament is a timeless story of how the holy man we know as Jesus alters forever the course of human history.
We come to know Jesus through the eyes of four dissimilar people. First is Judas, a committed political fighter who is invigorated by his discussions with Jesus about a sovereign nation for the Jews -- a place Jesus imagines as a philosophical rather than a physical kingdom. Second is Miryam of Migdal, through whom we learn of Jesus's controversial teachings as the two travel through Galilee and Jesus encourages the masses to question the teachings of the powerful few. Through Jesus' mother, Miryam, we learn of his all-too-human vulnerability, the rigor of his conviction, and his unfailing compassion. Finally, it is through Simon of Gergesa, a Syrian shepherd, that we witness the last days of the Jewish preacher as he journeys to Jerusalem. Though Simon is uncertain about how to assess Jesus' legacy, he now sees beauty where before there was none.
Covering overlapping portions of Jesus' life, Testament tells the recognizable story of the four Gospels but without recourse to miracle. The naturalism of the novel is based on extensive research and is utterly convincing, and yet there is indisputably something profound and even holy about the man and his teachings. As the novel progresses we begin to see how his story, filtered by different eyes and desires and subject to countless retellings, will be transformed into myth.
Ricci is not the first novelist to approach this central figure of western civilization, but here he accomplishes something of an entirely new order: a portrait that is historically grounded, philosophically rich, and emotionally moving and that speaks eloquently to the place and power of stories in our lives. test

About the author

NINO RICCI's best-selling Lives of the Saints (published in the United States as The Book of Saints) won the Governor General's Award for fiction, the SmithBooks/Books in Canada First Novel Award, and the F. G. Bressani Prize. The New York Times Book Review hailed it as “an extraordinary story — brooding and ironic, suffused with yearning, tender and lucid and gritty . . . [The author has] perfect pitch and brilliant descriptive powers.” This was the first book in a trilogy and was followed by In a Glass House — “beautifuly written and tireless in its pursuit of emotional truth” (Times Literary Supplement) — and Where She Has Gone, which was a finalist for the Giller Prize.

Nino Ricci's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Stunning . . . an absolutely beautiful, rigorously intelligent, fiercely thoughtful fictional biography." Booklist, ALA, Starred Review

"Wonderfully vibrant." Los Angeles Times

"Deserves a wide audience and should ignite vigorous debate . . . Ricci's a fantastic storyteller." Christian Science Monitor

"Persuasive evidence that a writer as gifted as Ricci can tackle almost any subject and succeed with it." Kirkus Reviews

"Lyrical . . . Ricci's lucid, thoughtful storytelling . . . sheds fresh light on an oft-told tale." Publishers Weekly

"Carefully researched and richly imagined . . . Ricci skillfully brings this historical milieu to life." Library Journal

"Transcends and revalidates the so-called 'historical novel.' Religion aside, history aside, this is a lovely work of fiction." -- Tim O'Brien

"Conscientiously researched, beautifully written, and completely engaging . . .Historical fiction of the very best kind." -- Fenton Johnson

"Remarkable -- immensely savvy about the nature of human longing, compassionate about human failure, and illuminating." --Barry Lopez

Other titles by Nino Ricci