Judas by Amos Oz is one of the shortlisted novels for this year’s Man Booker Prize.
The novel is about a young man called Shmeul. An aethiest and a student he is planning to write a paper about Jewish views on Jesus. During this time his girlfriend Yardena leaves him for her ex boyfriend and he quits school to go and work for a reclusive old man as his companion, and continue work on his paper.
The story alternates between Shmuel’s life in his new home and the paper he is writing. I found it an extremely interesting novel which discussed different religions that despite GCSE RE I wasn’t aware of. For example I had no idea that Jewish people do not believe that Jesus was the son of God. Shmuel’s paper covers an interesting topic, exploring the character of Judas Iscariot and his motivation for Jesus’ crucifixion.
Shmuel is a melancholy character, he finds happiness in nothing, hates loneliness but also doesn’t enjoy himself in company. As his sister writes to him, he talks, lectures but doesn’t have conversations.
I can completely understand why this novel has been shortlisted for the prize. Amos Oz writes to an extremely high quality. His writing is captivating. Although the novel’s pace is slow the subject matter is so interesting that it holds your attention nevertheless.
It is undoubtably a thought provoking and melancholy novel, bringing together issues of war, politics and religion narrated by the story of a young man still trying to find himself and what he would like to do with his life.