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THE TRANSMIGRANT

A captivating and powerfully related account of Jesus’ early years.

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A debut historical novel imagines Jesus’ youthful desire for spiritual enlightenment.

As a young boy in Galilee, Yeshua is precociously interested in religious study and implacably desires to devote his life to it. And while he is obedient to the laws of his faith, he’s also disturbed by their apparent contradictions and exclusion of many from God’s protective love. His father, however, interprets his philosophical curiosity as impudence and his aspirations as fanciful fits of vanity; he is a carpenter, and Yeshua is destined to become one as well. Zoroastrian seers prophesize that Yeshua is the Messiah, a prediction that stirs the boy. But his father dismisses the claim and arranges for Yeshua to marry for the good of the whole family. Then Yeshua meets Dhiman, a Buddhist monk who tells him that in his religious tradition, anyone can become a monk regardless of the circumstances of birth, and the boy runs off with him to study. But though he learns much, he is also stymied by monastic rules and is eventually forced to leave. He finds a new guru, Kahanji, who teaches him about Krishna. Again, Yeshua deepens his spiritual practice but rejects the caste system that aristocratically elevates some over others in the eyes of God. Yeshua finally returns home to his family and begins the ministry for which he becomes famous and which is viewed by the Roman authorities as politically seditious in intent. Duarte ambitiously conjures the undocumented years of Jesus’ life, before he became a historically transformative figure. The author’s knowledge of the period is remarkably astute, and she artfully concocts a less self-possessed Jesus, still grasping for a sense of his life’s mission. She also delves into his youthful worldly longings and the romantic experiences he has before his ministry, realistically fleshing out the possible details of his mortal life. Duarte masterfully traces the evolution of Jesus’ thought and the grand synthesis of religious traditions it culminates in: “I aim to remind my brother and sisters to love God and one another. Because it’s what’s in your heart that makes you righteous or impure.”

A captivating and powerfully related account of Jesus’ early years.

Pub Date: July 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9971807-0-1

Page Count: 312

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2017

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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A LITTLE LIFE

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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