In this unusual and accomplished vel Naomi Mitchison retells in realistic terms and colloquial dialogue the story of the passion and death of Jesus, hour by hour, as it unfolds over the twenty-four hours of Good Friday. In a restless Jerusalem under Roman occupation, political and personal agendas lead inexorably to the crucifixion, while the followers of Jesus - his mother, the fishermen, young Mary of Magdala - can only wait, unhappy and confused. Mitchison, probably inspired by the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947-56, drew, in writing this vel, t only on the New Testament gospels but also on fragmentary or lost gospels and on tradition. Herself a humanist, she scrupulously presents 'the historical Jesus'. But at the end of the vel, as the disciples keep watch by the garden tomb, she leaves the reader with a question: what happened next? Moira Burgess is a velist, short story writer and literary historian who lives in Glasgow. She is the author of Mitchison's Ghosts (Humming Earth, 2008), on supernatural and mythical elements in the writing of Naomi Mitchison, and is working on a collected edition of Mitchison's essays and journalism to be published by Kennedy & Boyd.
Naomi Mitchison [1897-1999] was a literary phenomenon. Tireless in her writing, and unafraid and often highly unconventional in her opinions, she left an extraordinary legacy. There are novels for adults and children, based on the classical ancient world, and on the immediately contemporary, stressing at different times her deep interest in Scottish and African societies, and her concerns for the future. She also wrote poetry and plays, memoirs, a war diary, political articles and reviews, and non-fiction - dealing with issues as different as birth control, North Sea Oil and GM crops.