2013 Booker Conversations: The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin

Booker_ConversationsThe 2013 Booker Conversations is a series of in-depth, spoiler-free discussions between BookerMarks bloggers about this year’s nominated titles.  Today, Aaron Westerman, Penny Kollar, Jackie Hirst, and Mike Cohen partake in an in-depth spoiler-free discussion about Colm Toibin’s novella The Testament of Mary.

Aaron is Opinionless. Except of course when it comes to books or movies.  He’s the co-founder of Typographical Era where he blogs on a regular basis about the latest in translated literature, foreign cinema, and more.

Penny is 1/3 of the Literary Hoarders that works in research administration by day and dreams often of reading and working amongst books full time.

Jackie is a book freak and a Duran Duran enthusiast.  She’s also 1/3 of the Literary Hoarders.

Mike sometimes sails historic ships in New York Harbor, jockeys a computer other times, and blogs nearly never at

Colm Toibin’s short, controversial, Man Booker Prize nominated novella The Testament of Mary, is a fictional retelling of Jesus’ rise to prominence and his tragic death as seen through his grieving mother’s eyes.



2013 Longlisted: The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin #6

The_Testament_of_MaryRating: 4
The Testament of Mary
A Novel by Colm Toibin
2012 / 96 Pages

What did Jesus’ mum think about his son of God routine? Well, according to Colm Toibin’s Man Booker Prize nominated novella The Testament of Mary–  she didn’t really think very highly of it all. What a waste of a life! And those friends of his!? Oy vey…


2013 Longlisted: The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin #5

The_Testament_of_MaryRating: 5
The Testament of Mary
A Novel by Colm Tóibín
2012 / 96 Pages

Full of grace

Testament /ˈtestəmənt/ noun: something that serves as a sign or evidence of a specified fact, event, or quality.

At their very worst, fictional works that rely heavily on the Bible as their source material can be negatively explosive and highly blasphemous, at their best these same works can be critically acclaimed, but these accolades can never arrive without some measure of controversy. Colm Toibin’s slim Man Booker nominated novella The Testament of Mary clearly falls under the latter designation. It’s a wonderful, surprising, and moving piece of literature, but it will most certainly upset a fair number of people who read it and then seek it interpret its contents as being something greater than a piece of fiction. When the book is raised up falsely as having some factual merit and then challenged to stand up against their personal religious or spiritual beliefs it will most certainly fail. If it didn’t, then everything that they have been taught to believe could come crumbling down around their very knees. In order for it to work properly, a belief system must be infallible, and any perceived threat to its existence must be immediately dismissed in any way possible.