Religion, history and autobiography intertwine in Anonymous’ (Holy Ghost, 2009, etc.) latest novel.
This book’s central premise mixes fact with fiction, and Eastern spirituality with Western religious tradition, in an intriguing retelling of historical events. The story centers on the mysterious figure of Cristo, whose journey spans three separate lifetimes across multiple centuries. Readers first see him as a wayward youth living in the ancient Middle East, after having spurned his family and faith in search of a higher spiritual purpose. His travels bring him to India, where he first practices Hinduism and later experiences a profound vision while reflecting on a statue of Siddhartha. Inspired by his vision, he returns to his home, dedicated to creating a new religion, and becomes the figure known as Jesus Christ. Following his crucifixion, Cristo is reborn as Christopher Columbus and trades his spiritual ambitions for those of wealth and power in the New World. The semiautobiographical final passages place a version of the author in the role of Cristo, with his novels precipitating a worldwide revolution. The book reinterprets the characters of Christ and Columbus as complicated, ambitious figures, in ways that stray from traditional depictions. This unorthodoxy also shows in the author’s narrative style, which eschews dialogue and traditional structure, allowing him to ruminate at length on the novel’s recurring themes. These passages offer some evocative language (“It seems that history in the Bible and in the textbooks crowned the glory of the lord with the black powder and sharp saber”), but also confuse the narrative, and often read like conspiracy theories. References to the New World Order, the 9/11 attacks, and “how twenty million people could control the world’s banking with usury and control the media world” may offend readers as much as they confuse them, and make the novel’s second half difficult to reconcile with the first.
A potentially controversial reimagining of history and religion.