Oleg Zobern

Avtobiografia Iesusa Khrista Autobiography of Iesus Christ
Novel. AST. Moscow 2018. 500 pages
Awards: 2018 Shortlist National Bestseller Award
Foreign rights: Czech Republic/ Albatros, Greece/ Koukoutsi

The autobiography of Iesus Christ in the guise of a fictional novel. The language is simple and clear, the depiction nothing but scandalous, the message far more than provocative. Many episodes of the novel follow those of the Bible. Zobern's Christ does not intend to contest or refute Christian teachings, but he presents completely different backgrounds and motives. Even though this Iesus has no objection to homosexuality, abortion or suicide, it is not the intention of the author to convert the reader to a "more liberal" Christian doctrine. His objective is to present convincingly how someone like Jesus might actually have lived. It is irrelevant whether we believe it or not. After all, who when writing his of her autobiography ever relates the whole truth? Instead, we are given virtual, first-hand reality combined with a flood of details so deeply rooted in the epoch concerned, that the story can only be seen to be authentic. As authentic as it is fanciful. From today's perspective, one would certainly not be ill-advised to consider it a significant omen when Neil Armstrong, wearing his white space-suit on the moon, appears to this Iesus in a dream.

A highly intelligent, likeable philanthropist, stumbling through life as best he can. In times neither better nor worse than ours, where wheeling and dealing defines every-day life, where it is not only the poor soil and the raw climate that cause the frequent migratory movements, fanatical guardians of public morals and occupying forces make life difficult as well. This Iesus also wants to enjoy himself. Sex and drugs, albeit without rock 'n' roll. And as it is his firm intention to become a prophet, he does have to put on a bit of a show to attract attention to himself at the eternal market of ideas and ideologies. Nevertheless, this Iesus does acknowledge his own shortcomings: he does not want to hurt anyone, just heal and be benevolent. And talk and write about it. Always with sound common sense. Simply down to earth.

Dyed-in-the-wool and unswerving believers will condemn the whole idea as blasphemy and treat the book with contempt. Non-believers will just like this Iesus. Believers with an open heart will believe in him even more, because he has now become more human. A Iesus one can touch, who you would like to hug and cuddle. Jesus Christ is dead. Long live Iesus Christ.