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Under Tiberius
     

Under Tiberius

5.0 1
by Nick Tosches
 

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A work of dangerous and haunting beauty by America's last real literary outlaw.

Under Tiberius is a thrilling story of crime and deceit involving the man who came to be called Jesus Christ. Deep in the recesses of the Vatican, Nick Tosches unearths a first-century memoir by Gaius Fulvius Falconius, foremost speechwriter for Emperor Tiberius. The

Overview

A work of dangerous and haunting beauty by America's last real literary outlaw.

Under Tiberius is a thrilling story of crime and deceit involving the man who came to be called Jesus Christ. Deep in the recesses of the Vatican, Nick Tosches unearths a first-century memoir by Gaius Fulvius Falconius, foremost speechwriter for Emperor Tiberius. The codex is profound, proof of the existence of a Messiah who was anything but the one we've known — a shabby and licentious thief.

After encountering him in the streets of Judea, Gaius becomes spin doctor to Jesus, and the pair schemes to accrue untold riches by convincing the masses that Jesus is the Son of God. As their marriage of truth and lies is consummated, friendship and wary respect develop between these two grifters.

Outrageous and disturbing, Under Tiberius is as black as the ravishing night, shot through with fierce and brilliant light.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
06/08/2015
Novelist, poet, and Sonny Liston biographer Tosches blows the doors off the historical novel with an unflinchingly blasphemous, mirthfully vulgar, and ultimately brilliant story of Jesus. In the secret libraries of the Vatican, Nick Tosches (who is also a character in the book) is entrusted with an ancient codex written by Gaius Fulvius Falconius, speechwriter to Tiberius Caesar, documenting how he took a power-hungry, drunken miscreant of the provinces who consorts with prostitutes and manufactured him into a savior. Together, Gaius Fulvius and Jesus of Nazareth embark on a massive swindle that is also a remarkable friendship between thieves, punctuated by ribald misadventures in the brothels of Gabaon, dubious miracles in Galilee, and wonderful philosophical commentary that doubles as a bold critique of power—which is the only god that a skeptic like Gaius Fulvius is disposed to recognize. As the scheming Roman tells us how he orchestrated Jesus’s many speeches and hoodwinked both his gullible flock and the Judean colonial powers, a curious reverence somehow seeps into the satire. Not reverence of God, but a reverence for humans and their capacity to construct the terms of their own nature. A novel in which Jesus Christ is a fraud and a chronic masturbator who dreams of sexual congress with his mother may not be to every taste, but Tosches is taking eloquent aim at the way history, religion, and political fantasy obscure the persistent realities of humanity. This novels succeeds where every neutered passion play–depiction of Jesus fails, simply by showing us a man. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
Praise for Under Tiberius: "

Tosches gets points for a book that is joyfully irreverent in a way that books simply aren't anymore. The philandering, scoundrel version of Jesus is jarring, but Under Tiberius is engaging as a narrative. At the very least, Under Tiberius will definitely spice up your book club."—GQ"

Nick Tosches is the kind of writer who can turn readers into fakers.... Where the 65-year-old author's celebrated nonfiction books shone light into American culture's morally murky depths, the cult favorite's audacious and haunting new novel, Under Tiberius, goes even deeper."
New York Magazine
"

Those of you who take your religion seriously, beware. All others read on for a novel that is extremely clever, historically sound and, in its strange way, fun."
The Globe and Mail
"

Tosches's novel takes the form of a translation of an eyewitness account of Jesus's ministry, a brilliant, dark journey that takes the well-worn gospel stories and turns them on their heads . . . Not since The Last Temptation of Christ (1960) has there been a book with so much potential for offending believers. But there's far more to it than shock value. This is also a meditation on the extraordinary strength of both lies and belief, and it shows how truth can sometimes grow in the shadows between them. Disturbing, audacious, and powerful."—Booklist, starred review"

Tosches blows the doors off the historical novel with an unflinchingly blasphemous, mirthfully vulgar, and ultimately brilliant story of Jesus . . . [He] is taking eloquent aim at the way history, religion, and political fantasy obscure the persistent realities of humanity. This novel succeeds where every neutered passion play-depiction of Jesus fails, simply by showing us a man."—Publisher's Weekly

Praise for Nick Tosches:"

Tosches can't write a dull book. He sets his foot firmly on your throat from the start; he won't let up , and you won't want him to."
Washington Post
"

The sheer audaciousness of Tosches's writing makes most other fiction seem phony by comparison."—San Francisco Chronicle
"

Tosches makes an extraordinarily compelling language out of expletive and insult. Through it, the seedy lowlife almost becomes heroic."—The Times (London)
"

A writer of rare humanity."—GQ"

[Tosches writes] without illusion and yet with real sympathy, call it a form of love. That is a real achievement of writing and feeling."—David Remnick
"

I'm an admirer of anything and everything Nick Tosches writes."—Tom Robbins

Library Journal
06/15/2015
While conducting research in the Vatican, the fictional Nick Tosches comes across a first-century codex of a memoir written by a speechwriter to Emperor Tiberius that presents a contemporary account of the life of Jesus. Gaius Fulvius Falconius has fallen out of favor with Tiberius and been exiled to the Middle East at a time when longing for a savior is at a fever pitch. He encounters a petty thief by the name of Jesus, and having seen the wealth that can come from religion, Gaius decides to turn this shabby thief into a god in much the same way he did the emperor. Together they follow the path of the biblical Jesus, gaining followers, all the while building their fortune with the hope of eventually repairing to a life of luxury in Rome. But this pretend savior outgrows his creator, enhancing Gaius' words with his own ideas—and running afoul of the Jewish religious authorities during a fateful trip to Jerusalem. VERDICT While Tosches's novel is well written and quite engrossing, the author's deep cynicism regarding religion—that it's a scam designed to remove money from the pockets of the faithful—and heterodox view of Christ are guaranteed to be controversial.—Lawrence Rungren, Andover, MA
Kirkus Reviews
2015-05-21
Meet the real Jesus Christ: a slovenly reprobate who becomes a religious huckster with the help of a Roman Svengali. In Tosches' 2002 novel, In the Hand of Dante, a fictional version of the author discovered a handwritten manuscript of The Divine Comedy in the bowels of the Vatican. Lots of dusty shelves there, apparently. This time, Nick discovers a memoir by Gaius Fulvius Falconius, a speechwriter for Roman emperor Tiberius, describing not only meeting Jesus Christ, but guiding him toward Judean celebrity. Banished from Rome after getting on the emperor's bad side, Gaius meets a "dirty little half-shekel thief" whom he proceeds to mold into a faux messiah more golden-voiced than his competitors. Using Old Testament prophesies as a playbook, Jesus and Gaius do brisk business, ostensibly collecting money for a synagogue but spending their nights carousing. Miracles are carny routines: the dead man Jesus "resurrects" is only poisoned; the "lame" man he heals is a beggar encouraged to rise with the promise of more money. (People possessed by demons? Drunks.) Ill intentions be damned, apostles are attracted to this new faith, and rumors about the feeding of the 5 thousand bolster his fame. Tosches' cynicism about religion in general and the Christ story in particular is unmistakable, though there's surprisingly little angry-atheist bluster in the novel's prose; framing the novel as an ancient memoir gives the story a more deadpan affect. And he's clearly thought hard about how parable and gossip, plus a little luck, can make a faith. But Tosches gets bogged down in etymological digressions and convoluted squabbles among the Romans and rival priests. If Tosches feels no obligation to God's existence, fine; but obligations to good fiction demand that the path to the "real" crucifixion have a touch more intrigue. One of the grumpiest stories ever told about the greatest story ever told.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316405669
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
08/04/2015
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
930,310
Product dimensions:
6.32(w) x 9.50(h) x 1.14(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Nick Tosches is from Newark, New Jersey. He is the author of four previous novels, Me and the Devil, In the Hands of Dante, Cut Numbers, and Trinities. His nonfiction works include Where Dead Voices Gather, The Devil and Sonny Liston, Dino, Power on Earth, Hellfire, Country, and Unsung Heroes of Rock 'n' Roll. He lives in New York City.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
New York, New York
Date of Birth:
1949
Place of Birth:
Newark, New Jersey
Education:
High school

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