In Nazareth, North Dakota Tommy Zurhellen retells the Christian gospels, changing the setting to the backwaters of this northern American state. He translates the well known biblical tale using modern characters and settings with which I immediately identified.
The chapters are given names like ‘The Annunciation’, ‘The Flight Into Egypt’ and ‘The Death of John The Baptist’ and each one reads like a short story. It would be quite possible to read any of these chapters and be satisfied with the completeness of the story therein. But when you read them together, what Zurhellen has created is an accessible literary delight. His writing is rich in metaphor and imagery and although the narrating character changes between the chapters, there is a continuity in the story arc that keeps the tale together.
I loved this book. Yes, we all know what the outcome of the story will be, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the journey. And yes, there is an elephant.
Tommy Zurhellen is working on a sequel to this book. I have one thing to say to him: hurry up!