Who was the man we know as Jesus? In The Tongues of Men or Angels, award-winning Jonathan Trigell performs an act of literary resurrection.
After the crucifixion, Jesus's followers - now led by his brother, James the Just - remained devout Jews, vigorously opposed to the Roman occupiers. But a rival faction emerged, via the charismatic itinerant Paul of Tarsus. Some called him Saint, some called him a liar, but Paul began telling the stories that would transform a small sect of Judaism into a world religion.
In The Tongues of Men or Angels Jonathan Trigell shows the night sky of Biblical-era Galilee lit, not by guiding stars, but by flames of terror. He shows contested soil, on which miracles were performed and battles raged. He shows men of flesh and of blood, by turns loving and brutal. In so doing, he unseals a tale of the ages. The Tongues of Men or Angels is a dazzling act of imagination and learning.
a committed attempt to compare the harsh reality of Jesus's life with the embroidered versions that spread following his death... This is a story that invents in order to see through invention - Independent on Sunday
Trigell's fourth novel is a high-octane take on the post-Crucifixion schism that emerged between Judaism and Christianity amid the brutality of Roman rule. Written with an inventive wit and verve, this is an impressive distillation of the Christian myth in the earthy poetry of the everyday vernacular; his portrayal of the Crucifixion is particularly visceral... a bravura and original performance.
- the Mail on Sunday
Trigell's version is ingenious and riveting. He is brilliant in his recreation of the visceral baseness of being human; this is a Judea mired in dung and blood and superstition. - The Times
The Tongues of Men or Angels is Jonathan Trigell's bold attempt at an ironic, modern retelling of the events surrounding the crucifixion and Paul's subsequent evangelising of his version of Jesus's message... an ingeniously structured, lively narrative of the birth of Christianity. - The Sunday Times
"The settings and events are described in such muscular yet sensuous language that you almost feel you're there." - Historical Novel Society
The Tongues of Men and Angels is an insightful and gripping account of the early church, without any of the symbolic trickery of a Dan Brown. Trigell has researched his subject thoroughly and fairly, and is able to reinterpret events in an interesting light... a lively, engaging, ambitious, nuanced and thought-provoking novel - Workshy Fop Blog
This ambitious book by Jonathan Trigell captures the battle for the soul of the early church ... the best of it ranges from thought-provoking to stunning. Trigell is superb on capturing the blood, dung and superstition of Judea in the 1st century AD. - The Times
Trigell is a very good writer - and also knows his text inside out. This really helps, because it gives him a very rich support cast: Philemon's slave is a fictional triumph, really well fleshed out from the scanty available evidence.
This often very subtle and creative cross-referencing adds a sort of intellectual game, as a bonus (although I suspect the novel would work perfectly well for those who did not identify the detailed sources), but also more seriously gives a surprising authority to the novel.
Jonathan Trigell was born in Hertfordshire, but now lives in Chamonix Mont Blanc in France. He is the author of four thematically very different novels: Boy A; Cham; Genus; and The Tongues of Men or Angels, published 2015.
Much acclaimed, Jonathan has won the Waverton Award for best first novel; the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, for best book in the commonwealth by an author under thirty five; the Italian Edoardo Kihlgren Prize, for a translated novel; and the inaugural World Book Day Prize, for the most discussion worthy novel by a living writer.
Jonathan's first novel - Boy A - was dramatized by Cuba Pictures, Film 4 and the Weinstein Co. The production was directed by John Crowley and starred Andrew Garfield, Katie Lyons and Peter Mullan. Boy A subsequently won four BAFTA Awards, the Jury Prize at the Berlin Film Festival and the Jury and Public Prizes at the Dinard Film Festival.