- Hardcover: 531 pages
- Publisher: Blank Slate Press (October 27, 2015)
A suspicious death in Istanbul leaves one ancient scroll and clues to finding another in the hands of Drew Korchula, a thirty-two-year-old American ex-pat, a Turkish dwarf named Kadir, and Zafer, a Special Forces washout. Drew is desperate to turn everything over to the academic community, and in the process redeem himself in the eyes of his estranged wife, but Kadir and Zafer are only interested in what they can get for the scrolls on the black market. None of them anticipated a coven of shadowy Church operatives determined to prevent the revelations embodied in the priceless manuscripts from ever going public.
An action-packed, intellectual thriller unraveling a theological cold case more than two thousand years old, The Christos Mosaic is a monumental work of biblical research wrapped in a story of love, faith, human frailty, friendship, and forgiveness. The novel takes the reader through the backstreets of Istanbul, Antakya (ancient Antioch), and Cairo, to clandestine negotiations with wealthy antiquities smugglers and ruthless soldiers of fortune, to dusty Egyptian monasteries, on a nautical skirmish off the coast of Alexandria, and finally to the ruins of Constantine’s palace buried beneath the streets of present-day Istanbul.
Buy, read, and discuss The Christos Mosaic
Vincent Czyz is the author of The Christos Mosaic, a novel, and Adrift in a Vanishing City, a collection of short fiction. He received two fellowships from the NJ Council on the Arts and the W. Faulkner-W. Wisdom Prize for Short Fiction. The 2011 Truman Capote Fellow at Rutgers University, his stories and essays have appeared in New England Review, Shenandoah, AGNI, The Massachusetts Review, Tin House (online), Boston Review, Quiddity, The Tampa Review, The Georgetown Review, and Skidrow Penthouse, among other publications. He spent a total of nearly a decade in Istanbul, Turkey before settling in Jersey City. His work often deals with the existential themes found in art, myth and religion, dreams, and primal ways of perceiving the world.
I confess, it took me a bit to really get into this book. I just didn’t connect with the main character, Drew, as he was in college, and at first, I couldn’t see why the Drew-at-university chapter was even there. At some point I realized that part of my reaction was because I received this book – which is a meaty 531 pages long – later than I’d hoped, so I didn’t have the time to sit with it, and the material, which basically boils down to “Was Jesus Real?” deserves, and even requires some digestion.
In terms of the subject of his novel, the theological and historical context, the mystery of the scroll in question, etc. Vincent Czyz has shown himself to be incredibly well-read, either from intense research or lifelong knowledge (probably both). You may not agree with some of the theories this book includes, but you can’t deny that the various arguments are supported.
As a novelist, author Czyz is a bit less polished, a bit more uneven. His dialogue is good, and even engaging, but I felt that his characters, especially Drew, could have used a little more depth. The plot was interesting, but the ending was predictable. Where he excelled was with his descriptions of places. In those cases, I felt like I was in Turkey, or on a college campus, or wherever the story was taking us.
If you’re really into religious history and the ages-old argument between fact and faith, you’ll probably enjoy this novel. If not, it’s likely to be the kind of thing that will appeal if you’re in the right mood when it comes into your life.
I believe Czyz has potential to grow as a novelist, and I liked this book enough that I’d definitely read his work again, but I’d be sure to set aside more time than I had.
Goes well with honeyed lamb, couscous, and mint tea.
Monday, February 8th: It’s A Mad Mad World
Thursday, February 11th: Bibliotica
Monday, February 15th: From the TBR Pile
Wednesday, February 17th: Ace and Hoser Blog
Monday, March 7th: Life is Story
Date TBD: Patricia’s Wisdom