The following is a copy of a press release issued last night by Canongate.
Canongate to publish Philip Pullman’s retelling of the myth of Jesus
Embargoed until midnight on the 5th September
Canongate Books has acquired world rights for an undisclosed sum in a remarkable new piece of fiction by Philip Pullman that challenges the Gospels and provides a compelling and plausible version of events. Entitled The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, the book will be published as part of the Canongate Myths series and for Easter 2010. The deal was negotiated between Jamie Byng of Canongate and Caradoc King of AP Watt.
The book will be published simultaneously in America by Grove/Atlantic, in Australia and New Zealand by Text Publishing and by Knopf/Random House in Canada as well as by a number of the international publishers of the Myths series which has been licensed to 41 publishers around the world. Authors published in the series to date include Margaret Atwood, Jeanette Winterson, Alexander McCall Smith, Dubravka Ugresic, David Grossman, Karen Armstrong, and Ali Smith.
“Philip Pullman has written a book of genuine importance, a radical and ingenious retelling of the life of Jesus that demystifies and illuminates this most famous and influential of stories. It strips Christianity bare, exposes the Gospels to a new light and succeeds brilliantly as a work of literature because it is convincing, thought-provoking, profoundly moving and beautifully nuanced throughout. The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ throws down a challenge and does what all great books do: make the reader ask questions.” – Jamie Byng, Publisher, Canongate Books
“By the time the gospels were being written, Paul had already begun to transform the story of Jesus into something altogether new and extraordinary, and some of his version influenced what the gospel writers put in theirs. Paul was a literary and imaginative genius of the first order who has probably had more influence on the history of the world than any other human being, Jesus certainly included. I believe this is a pity ... The story I tell comes out of the tension within the dual nature of Jesus Christ, but what I do with it is my responsibility alone. Parts of it read like a novel, parts like a history, and parts like a fairy tale; I wanted it to be like that because it is, among other things, a story about how stories become stories.” – Philip Pullman