By György Spiró
A literary sensation in Hungary, György Spiró’s Captivity is either a hugely subtle historic novel and a gripping page-turner. Set within the tumultuous first century A.D., among the 12 months of Christ’s dying and the outbreak of the Jewish struggle, Captivity recounts the adventures of the feeble-bodied, bookish Uri, a tender Roman Jew.
Frustrated together with his hapless son, Uri’s father sends the younger guy to the Holy Land to regain the family’s status. In Jerusalem, Uri is imprisoned by means of Herod and meets thieves and (perhaps) Jesus sooner than their crucifixion. Later, in cosmopolitan Alexandria, he undergoes a scholarly and sexual awakening—but should also get away a pogrom. Returning to Rome ultimately, he unearths a completely unforeseen inheritance.
Equal components Homeric epic, brilliantly researched Jewish historical past, and picaresque experience, Captivity is a dramatic story of relatives, destiny, and fortitude. In its weak-yet-valiant hero, fanatics could be reminded of Robert Graves’ classics of old Rome, I, Claudius and Claudius the God.
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