“Universally timeless and contemporary…If Jesus needs new PR, this is one imaginative possibility.”
— Publishers Weekly starred review
It’s not easy for a messiah to grow up in the Badlands of North Dakota. And it’s even harder for him to share his message when radical ideas and so-called “miracles” are the surest way to get the FBI breathing down your neck. The sequel to Nazareth, North Dakota, Apostle Islands follows Sam Davidson and his group of roughneck followers as they save wedding receptions, cure cancer patients, and boost a flagging fishing season, all while breaking bread and laws and making peace and enemies.
On a mission to change one botched up world, Sam knows he will one day be called to make the ultimate sacrifice, and indeed he sees the writing on the shores of Lake Superior when one of his inner circle betrays him. A playful and delightfully irreverent take on the New Testament, Apostle Islands reveals what it takes to shake up the status quo while paying the price to save the ones you love.
Praise for Apostle Islands
“It’s fun to read Zurhellen’s novel, a sequel to Nazareth, North Dakota, as a roman à clef, since the correspondence to figures of the gospel stories is often not obvious. The point of such a literary exercise is to get the imagination, or re-imagination, going. Zurhellen used his, and dreamed up Sam Davidson, a regular Upper Midwestern guy, who is the son of Roxy, who likes her liquor; the beloved of Daylene Hooker; friend to a group of fishermen from Lake Superior, which really does have Apostle Islands. The loosely woven story has a chronology and chapter title tipoffs: ‘Sermon on the Mount,’ ‘First Epistle of Paul to the Romans'(which opens with a memo to Poncho S. Pelotti, an IRS official). Readers who don’t know the references will miss some humor. No one can miss the premise with which the book opens, which is both universally timeless and contemporary, theological, and secular: ‘Forget everything you know about heroes.’ Those who know the story will know what happens to charismatic Sam. If Jesus needs new PR, this is one imaginative possibility.”
— Publishers Weekly starred review (7/30/12)
“Zurhellen has created living, passionate characters to recount this story rather than the pious representations we are accustomed to from religious literature…It’s no Sunday school version of the gospels, and often reads as satire, which may test the faith of some readers, but develops into a story about a community of caring, loving people who try their best to get by in a difficult world.”
– The Los Angeles Review
“Zurhellen once again delivers modern myths and miracles that will delight the faithful reader.” – The Hudson River Valley Review
“Like the miracles he depicts in Apostle Islands, Tommy Zurhellen’s new novel is a gift of wonder and audacity. It is also deviously funny. Read it with his first novel, Nazareth, North Dakota, and consider yourself saved.”
— Bruce Murkoff, author of Red Rain and Waterborne
“Poignant, funny, and beautifully written, Apostle Islands is a big-hearted story and that rarest of books—a profound page turner. I loved it.”
— Suzanne Morrison, author of Yoga Bitch
“Tommy Zurhellen is the crown prince of zany, the prime minister of zip. The genius of Apostle Islands, the sequel to Nazareth, North Dakota, is his anatomization of the upper Midwest psyche using elements of the New Testament as surgical instruments. Enter this book anywhere, as you would the New Testament, you’ll come away startled, grinning and enriched.”
— Djelloul Marbrook, author of Saraceno and Far From Algiers
Tommy Zurhellen was born in New York City. Apostle Islands is the sequel to Nazareth, North Dakota, his debut novel.