Storytelling writ large by an author who rarely disappoints

A novel that brilliantly hazes the distinction between past and present, truth and forgery, fiction and fact

5th November, 2017
Marcel Theroux: hazing the distinction between past and present

Fiction: The Secret Books, By Marcel Theroux, Faber & Faber, €17

In 1894, a book called The Unknown Life of Jesus appeared in France and became, very rapidly, a sensation and a scandal. Its author was a Jewish Crimean journalist and adventurer of dubious reputation named Nicolas Notovitch (pronounced “Know-to-vitch”).

Notovich claimed to have visited the Tibetan Buddhist Monastery of Hemis, where he had discovered a hidden manuscript that recounted the early...

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