A disquieting new novel from the award-winning author of The Testimony of Taliesin Jones.
Johnny Yells – young, fit, ambitious advertising executive – finds his father’s death peculiarly useful: at the funeral he gets the idea for his first really successful campaign. The Smiling Jesus changes the face of life assurance and brings Johnny acclaim throughout the advertising world. With a promotion, a new car, a new flat in a swanky part of town, he’s getting all he ever wanted. So what is it that is making him so obsessed with his own death, so detached from those around him? And is the fact that the Smiling Jesus on the campaign posters seeming to frown at him a sign that he is going mad?
Rhidian Brook won a Somerset Maugham Award, a Betty Trask Award and the Author’s Club First Novel Award for The Testimony of Taliesin Jones. Set in contemporary London, in the glamorous, shallow world of advertisng, with a modern Everyman as hero dealing with everyday questions of life, death and What It All Means, his second novel represents a marked leap in ambition. Written in plainer, sparser prose, it has the tenor of a fable or a contemporary parable without delivering the resolution of a moral, ending teasingly and elusively. It’s very much a novel about the eighties, written for the nineties, and charged with marketing and publicity potential.
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Praise for The Testimony of Taliesin Jones:
‘A beautiful meditation on childhood… Brook’s voice has been plucked from the babbling tongues of his country and made new’
- Russell Celyn Jones, The Times
‘Not just an impressive first novel – an impressive any novel… in short, a healing read’
- Michael Carson, author of Sucking Sherbet Lemons
‘The accomplished patters and Brook’s easy style form a readable and poetic first novel’
“Johnny, the eponymous adman, is ambitious . . . His "Smiling Jesus" poster – with the copyline "For Life after Death, talk to LifeGen" – wins Johnny praise, promotion and prizes. Yet from the start a sense of unease surrounds the project. For all his chutzpah, the adman's conscience will not rest easy . . . As a work of fiction, 'Jesus and the Adman' meets criteria that many contemporary novelists have either forgotten about or simply cannot satisfy. The structure is perfect, the characters, even where lightly drawn, are credible, the plot is compelling. There is a rare attention to words, with original and elegant turns of phrase . . . Best of all, the novel works as entertainment which slides into something darker. Some of the ideas treated here are profound and troubling. For the first time in years I found myself worrying about hell.”
MIRANDA FRANCE, 'Spectator'
“Sharp, neat and highly to the point, 'Jesus and the Adman,' in which an ambitious copywriter uses a religion icon for a campaign, is recognisably the work of someone who is practised at expressing himself without waste . . . There is no denying the pleasure and energy of the pared-down narrative.”
PHILIP HESHNER, 'Mail on Sunday'
“In 'Jesus and the Adman', Rhidian Brook writes about faith and crisis and crises of faith, just as he did in his prize-winning novel, 'The Testimony of Taliesin Jones. . . 'Although it describes a personal search for answers which results in a frightening mental breakdown,' Jesus and the Adman 'is also about pressure to conform, to not step out of line or ask unorthodox questions.”
ALEXANDRA HARRISON, 'TLS'
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Book Description FLAMINGO, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0006551297