BOOK REVIEW: THE FIRE GOSPEL BY MICHEL FABER

FIRE

GENERAL INFORMATION

TITLE: THE FIRE GOSPEL

AUTHOR: MICHEL FABER

PAGES: 213

PUBLISHER: CANNONGATE

YEAR: 2008

GENRE: GENERAL FICTION

COVER TYPE: HARD BACK

www.amazon.co.uk/Fire-Gospel-Myths-Michel-Faber/dp/1847672795

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Faber

www.themyths.co.uk

BLURB FROM THE COVER 

Theo Griepenkerl is a modest academic with an Olympian ego. When he visits a looted museum in Iraq, looking for treasures he can ship back to Canada, he finds nine papyrus scrolls that have lain hidden for two thousand years. Once translated from Aramaic, these prove to be a fifth Gospel, written by an eye-witness of Jesus Christ’s last days. But when Theo decides to share this sensational discovery with the world, he fails to imagine the impact the new Gospel will have on Christians, Arabs, homicidal maniacs and Amazon customers. Like Prometheus’s gift of fire, it has incendiary consequences… 

EXTRACT 

The museum curator swung open another door, and, as if on cue, a lion’s head fell off its body. A big stone lion’s head, carved centuries ago: smack on the floor. Splinters of ceramic tile jumped up from the impact. The head rolled over and came to rest near the left paw, open-mouthed, front fangs smashed off, angry eyes staring up past the stump of its own neck to the ornate ceiling above.  

REVIEW 

This is a library book. The title and the blurb inside the front cover intrigued me. The Fire Gospel is also part of the Canongate Myths series like The Good Man Jesus & The Scoundrel Christ I read recently. I almost didn’t read it because I’d read The Good Man Jesus & The Scoundrel Christ so recently. I didn’t think I wanted to read two novels with biblical connotations so close together. I read it because I had finished all my other library books and had a couple of days until I could pick up a fresh batch. I think I might read all if the books in the series eventually.

I loved The Fire Gospel. Faber offers a very original version of the Prometheus myth (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prometheus). The Fire Gospel is well written, interesting, hilarious in parts and a sheer joy to read. I wish it had been 500 pages instead of a mere 213.

The Fire Gospel is a contemporary novel. It’s exactly what I thought The Good Man Jesus & The Scoundrel Christ would be like. Vivid, original and startling. I was captivated from the opening chapter when Theo finds the scrolls hidden inside a statue in a looted museum in Iraq right until the end. I read The Fire Gospel in one sitting.

I thought Faber offered something unique and interesting with The Fire Gospel. I like the way Faber approaches the subject of celebrity and the consequences of fame. Theo translates the scrolls and published a book. The book is a huge hit, partly because the scrolls Theo found pretty much tear a hole straight through the centre of Christian faith. The scrolls suggest Jesus was just an ordinary guy who couldn’t perform miracles. He bled to death on the crucifix and didn’t rise again. You can imagine how Christians felt about Theo’s book. I felt the events in The Fire Gospel were realistic. I can imagine how pissed off Christian’s would be if something like Theo’s book was published.

The Fire Gospel made me laugh out loud so many times. It’s funny and sort of tongue in cheek in certain parts. One of the best chapters is near the start not long after Theo’s book is published. He’s starting a book tour and spending the first night in a hotel. He wants to know how well his book is doing and reads review on Amazon. The chapter includes mock reviews. I felt they were hilarious and very realistic. There were reviewers who had never read the book but love it or loathed it, religious fanatics who accused Theo of being in instrument of Satan and some coherent reviews from people who liked the book. Another stand out moment is when Theo is kidnapped from a book singing by two religious fanatics who think he is going to let Jews take over the world and let society crumble. The two men who kidnap him are dumb as shit and I almost wet myself laughing as their antics. This is one of my favourite sections of the novel.

I liked the characters in The Fire Gospel. They were real and very flawed humans. I found them all believable, even minor ones like the museum curator in Iraq and the various people Theo meets on his book tour. Theo translated the scrolls and published them because he was wanted fame and fortune. He might not be the most honourable guy in the world but he was real. I felt his choices were believable. A lot of people do stupid things in the pursuit of fame, fortune and happiness.

I like the satirical view of the publishing world Faber offers in The Fire Gospel. Theo’s book is not very good and hugely controversial but it still gets published. The media attention over his book is very realistic. How many shit books have been published that create so much fever and controversy in the media that people need to buy it in their droves? Fifty Shades of Grey anyone? I thought this was pretty realistic. This was one of the most enjoyable aspects of the book. I also liked the way Faber explores how fickle fame can be.

RATING

5 STAR RATING

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2 Comments Add yours

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