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The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson

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Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2006.

If you like James Robertson you might also like to read books by Martin Davies, Michel Faber and Jed Rubenfeld.


The Testament of Gideon Mack by James Robertson

Set in contemporary Scotland, the novel uses the literary device of a 'discovered' manuscript - the testament of Gideon Mack - which has fallen into the hands of a journalist. A son of the manse, Mack has grown up in an austere and chilly house, dominated by a joyless father. Unable to believe in God, he is far more attracted by the forbidden cartoons on television. Father and son clash fatally one day and it may be guilt which drives Mack to take up a career in the Church. This minister, who doesn't believe in God, the Devil or an afterlife, one day discovers a standing stone in the middle of a wood where previously there had been none. Unsure what to make of this apparition, Mack's life begins to unravel dramatically until the moment when he is swept into a mountain stream, which pours down a chasm before disappearing underground. Miraculously Mack emerges three days later, battered but alive. He seems to have lost his mind however, since he claims that while underground he met the Devil. To this story Robertson adds a wealth of insight about the mood of post-war Scotland on the brink of the social revolution of the Sixties and dramatises the country's struggle to stay true to its history while swimming within the powerful current of Americanization. Written with great lyricism, tight pacing, superlative storytelling and immense imaginative power, this is Robertson's most ambitious and accessible novel to date.

About the Author

James Robertson

In James Robertson, Scotland has a writer of the highest literary quality and cultural acuity. He recently served as the Scottish Parliament’s first Writer in Residence and his second novel, Joseph Knight, won the two major Scottish literary prizes in 2003/4 – the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year. He has published two novels, stories, poetry, anthologies, compiled a Scottish Dictionary of Quotations and is also editor of an educational Scots imprint. James lives in Angus.

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Book Info

Publication date

1st June 2006


James Robertson

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Penguin Books Ltd




Literary Fiction
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