György Spiró "Captivity"

Posted by: Laura Blum on Monday, December 7, 2015

Captivity, György Spiró's bestselling novel and winner of the prestigious Aegon Literary Award in Hungary, is now out in English. So this 2005 page-turner is braced to conquer stateside audiences who like their period pageantry with a stout twist of comic relief. Set in the tumult of first century A.D. Rome, Captivity is a rousing classical epic in the vein of Ben Hur and I, Claudius, alloyed with Life of Brian-style satire for kicks. It follows the exploits of Uri, a young Roman Jew who may as well be a prototype of the nerdy schlemiel. But it's through this wayward picaro that we'll grasp the story's heft. Here's the publisher's blurb:


Frustrated with his feeble-bodied son, Uri’s father sends the young man to the Holy Land to bolster the family’s prestige. Suspected of spying in Jerusalem, Uri is imprisoned by Herod and shares a cell with Jesus (whom Spiró reimagines as a balding, middle-aged man) immediately before his crucifixion. Later, in cosmopolitan Alexandria, Uri undergoes a radical spiritual and carnal awakening before barely escaping a pogrom. Back in Rome, he joins the fight for justice on behalf of Alexandria’s butchered and displaced Jews. The campaign embroils Uri in the murderous, conspiratorial, and sex-fueled world of Imperial politics and gives him a front-row seat to the megalomaniacal reign and downfall of the emperor Caligula.


And here's Tablet magazine's review.




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