“The Jewish-Czech author Martin Vopěnka is one of the leading voices in world literature, writing with ‘with a deft and compellingly simple control of sentences that is reminiscent of both Kafka and Kundera.” – Choice
It’s 2103 and Earth is baking. Scientists attempt to cool down the planet. With the coming of rain, a messiah is born. My Brother Messiah explores spirituality in the twilight of human civilization and presents a dark, vivid future of our world.
Watch this space – we’ll keep it updated with all current tour stops.
April 13th 6:30pm – Diesel Books, Brentwood, CA
In Conversation with Czech Writer and Visionary Martin Vopenka, with a reading by Czech actress Tereza Sbová.
April 20th – T.G. Masaryk Czech School, Cicero, IL
April 22nd – T.G. Masaryk Czech School, Cicero, IL
In Conversation with Martin Vopenka.
April 27th 6:00pm – The Czech Embassy, Washington, DC
In Conversation with Martin Vopenka.
May 3rd – Czech Centre NY, Bohemian National Hall, NY
In Conversation with Martin Vopenka, about his novels My Brother the Messiah and The Back of Beyond. Sign Up
What if your beloved friend brings you back from the dead, and you see nothing of any afterlife? And what if that friend is the Jewish mystic Yeshua, who will come to be known as Jesus?
Yeshua’s miracles are stirring the authorities in Jerusalem, and Lazarus finds himself scrambling after his childhood companion during Passion Week, the turbulent final chapter in Yeshua’s life. Meanwhile Lazarus struggles to return to his work and family, feeling a great sense of fragility and lost identity since his return to the living world. He can’t help but wonder if he was resurrected to save Yeshua in his time of dire need…
Richard Zimler’s impeccably researched novel draws you into to Roman-controlled Jerusalem, the Jewish communities within it and the permeating Greek cultural influences. A cast of biblical figures, from Mary and Joseph to Mary Magdalene, are restored to their Jewish roots. Jesus is presented as a mystic within the practises and traditions of ancient Judaism. Zimler brings us a fascinating and highly moving read.
Richard Zimler’s eleven novels have been translated into twenty-three languages and have appeared on bestseller lists in twelve different countries, including the UK, United States, Australia, Brazil, Italy and Portugal. Richard is Jewish and American. He grew up in New York and since 1990 has lived in Porto, Portugal with his husband.
The Lost Gospel of Lazarus was partly inspired by the death of his brother by AIDS. He would return to Richard in recurring dreams as a resurrected but deeply changed and troubled man. This was the genesis for Richard’s Lazarus. The novel was also inspired by a desire to return biblical characters to their Jewish cultural roots, and deals with how Jesus’ legacy was handled by early Christians.
A note from the Author:
My goal with The Lost Gospel of Lazarus was to create an immensely moving and insightful page-turner. I wanted to breathe new life into the New Testement story of Lazarus, turning it into a fast-paced tale of deep friendship, murderous betrayal, magical beliefs and – in the end – redemption.
The Jerusalem of this novel – and indeed of this time – is multicultural. Lazarus and Jesus (who in this book is called Yeshua), have an interesting command of Latin, Greek and Aramaic words. Zimler constructs puns and wordplay that enrich the story and reveal the close connection between the two men.
Richard identifies ancient graffiti as a key inspiration. During this time, there was graffiti on monuments and public furniture, which demonstrated regular people using language in comedic, clever, and satirical ways. To replicate this himself, Richard made lists of Greek, Latin and Aramaic words and would play with them as a poet would.
It was important for this wordplay not to become a distraction to the story. If it didn’t make sense in the context, or didn’t further the story, Richard cut it. He dislikes writing by overly-clever authors who always bring attention back to their own intelligence or sensitivity, and so was careful when using wordplay.
In Richard Zimler’s The Lost Gospel of Lazarus, Jesus – in this novel known as Yeshua – is a Jewish mystic who is presented as a bringer of revolution. He seeks to lift up the oppressed peoples in Roman Jerusalem through social uprising.
Richard tells us that presenting Jesus this way is not new; in fact, in the bible Jesus frequently defied power structures. For example, when he casts out the merchants from the temple in Matthew 21:12–13.
“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
However, Yeshua’s position as a revolutionary is just as important as his spiritual leadership. In The Lost Gospel of Lazarus, Yeshua is presented as having a unique relationship with Jewish faith and the ‘Palace of the Lord’. It’s these two parts of him that makes Yeshua a special and captivating figure, and also what got him into trouble in the end.
Originally published in the UK in 2020, RED HANDS by Colin W. Sargent is now out in the USA!
This historical fiction is drawn from eighty hours of unique interviews and told in Iordana’s own voice; a true-life tale that spins readers into the pleasures, excesses and horrors of late twentieth-century Europe.
Iordana is brought up with all the perks of Romania’s corrupt communist regime. She marries the eldest son of the monstrous dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, and provides him with a grandson heir…
But revolution stirs. In 1989 crowds kill anyone with the Ceasescu name. In all the blood and chaos, can Iordana keep her little son alive?
And here’s Colin himself, describing his book and the real life Iordana Ceasescu:
Heedless, headstrong, and headlong love. Who knew it would doom her country, too? Intelligent, nubile Iordana wasn’t interested in communist strategies while she enjoyed spectacular privilege – unimaginable to the 20 million souls living under the iron fist a dictatorship ruled by a murderous family she chose to marry into. But as a member of the elite Nomenclatura during Romania’s cool 1960s, she had to have her Valentin. Just as she rose in the Ceausescu clan despite her parents’ objections, so she fell when the murderous dictator and his criminal partner were taken down. “Death to the Dracu grandson” rang through the subways. An angry world chased Iordana and her son in an effort to wipe the name Ceausescu off the face of the earth. They hunted her from Bucharest to Israel to Canada to closer than you think. She escaped to the other side of the world, only to find herself branded an illegal alien in a quiet suburb on the coast of Maine.
Where to go? Where to hide? How will her son even register for school? A tiny town in America will have to do for now.
Grab a copy of Red Hands now!
It’s a quest and you are the knight, or the heroine in shining armour or bling. You need to put on your armour and your bling and keep at it. It’s not possible or realistic for some to write everyday (we have other lives too!), and sometimes it’s good to put a book down for a while and return to it with fresh eyes.
What’s most important is passion, commitment and stamina – that’s what keeps you going with a novel. And if you believe in a novel enough, you’re going to be riddled with doubt. But there should be something within you that believes in the novel, so you just keep returning to that place. Sarah finds that when a novel wants to be written, there’s something that keeps pushing her back to the blank page.
So just show up at the blank page again and again and again. And sometimes you might write, ‘I don’t know what to write’, and if you keep writing that, maybe something else will reveal itself…
In this short clip, D.D. Johnston talks about finding light in darkness while writing about the apocalypse.
He identifies a process of crisis and positive change that can be applied to the lives of individuals and to wider society. Terrible wars, revolutions and disasters sometimes result in positive change. The same is true for personal tragedy; it can cause important personal development. This isn’t necessarily to say that all crisis lead to good things (they absolutely don’t), D.D. just suggests that some difficult times can lead to better things. This sentiment is the foundation of Disnaeland, a novel which inverts dystopia and creates a utopia of sorts.
The Silk Pavilion opens with a disturbing dream. It is the first of many throughout the novel. In this clip, Sarah Walton talks about the inclusion of dreams, and how to avoid the pitfalls of this controversial literary device.
Sarah is personally interested in dreams. She has trained in Tibetan Buddhist meditation and undertaken a lucid dreaming course. As she takes value from dreams in real life, it’s no surprise that she believes dreams can be powerful tools in novels.
For Sarah, dreams are a place where the hidden parts of our psyche can emerge from the shadows. In The Silk Pavilion, they’re opportunities for analysis. The protagonist Lucy is an active explorer of her own mind, and the mystery afoot is central to the story: why does she choose to be with Miguel, an unpleasant, abusive man. The dreams reveal that Lucy still confuses abuse and love, and this is rooted in repressed memories from her early childhood. Her dreams bring the darkest parts of her into the light. Another benefit of these dreams are that they’re great for establishing a sense of foreboding regarding Lucy’s trauma.
Dreams also allowed Sarah to make Karl Jung a real character. He was interested in the hidden value of dreams himself and so dispenses his wisdom to Lucy – ‘When an inner situation is not made conscious it happens outside as fate’ – it is a distinctive, meta moment in The Silk Pavilion, because this quote is at the start of the book.
Sarah wrote the dream sequences of The Silk Pavilion with apprehension; her editor does not easily accept dreams in novels. There was a subsequent back-and-forth, where some dreams were cut or the nature of them were altered.
Richard Zimler explores the intimate relationship of Jesus and Lazarus in his novel The Lost Gospel of Lazarus.
In the clip, Richard tells us that the relationship between Jesus (who in this book is the Jewish mystic Yeshua) and Lazarus is many things; it’s homoerotic and romantic in some ways, in other ways it’s divine and metaphysical, and in others it’s a simple, cherished childhood friendship. It doesn’t have clear boundaries, and this reflects the nature of social relationships during this period. It is not easy to define Yeshua and Lazarus’ relationship, and that is part of its richness and beauty.
Author D.D. Johnston tells us how his ideas for Disnaeland were really a reaction against various apocalypse media.
In apocalypse stories, humans are often presented as awful and savage. Without the boundaries and rules that society sets for us, humans seem destined to destroy each other. In Disnaeland, Johnston takes a different perspective. He’s inspired by the likes of Emily Mendel’s Station Eleven. Also, notably, Colin McCarthy’s The Road, because it’s a book that says things about belief and faith that he wanted to demonstrate in Disnaeland. A difference is that The Road might suggest there’s only two good people left in the world. In contrast, Disnaeland presents all people as capable of goodness, even if they fail or are bad to start with.
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