Controversial author releases Jesus novel through an art exhibition

The ‘bad boy’ of American fiction James Frey continues to stoke the fires of controversy with his upcoming novel about Jesus Christ in modern times.

Popular author and unwitting pariah James Frey blew up in the media during 2006, when his supposed memoir A Million Little Pieces – which purported to tell of his own struggle with crack cocaine addiction – was found to be fabricated, in parts.

The media hullabaloo over the book culminated in a highly publicised interview with Oprah Winfrey, in which the household fixture TV presenter chastised the author and his publisher Nan Talese.

Then, last November, Frey was thrust back into the headlines due to complaints that participants of his writing ‘factory’, Full Fathom Five – a collaborative project employing authors in an attempt to produce highly popular fiction in the vein of the Twilight and Harry Potter series – were treated like workers in a sweatshop, with the author imposing draconian demands for little pay.

Seemingly undeterred by all this, Frey’s next project will not only be controversial in content but also in form.

The Final Testament of the Holy Bible will be released by and displayed at the Gagosian gallery in New York, accompanied by illustrations from high profile artists such as Terry Richardson, Richard Prince, Ed Ruscha and Richard Phillips.

Given that the collectors’ edition of the print book will come to a princely $150 (€108), Frey will release a more affordable version as an ebook – effectively, he will be completely bypassing conventional publishers.

The reason to self-publish is hardly surprising, given Frey’s previous track record with brick-and-mortar publishers.

“This way I can take full control of what I do, both artistically and commercial,” Frey said. “I’ve written controversial books in the past and publishers have given me no protection at all – they just threw me under the bus.

“If controversy does arise, it’ll be much easier for me to deal with as a self-publisher, because I haven’t got any shareholders to be beholden to. I’ll just ignore it.”

And given that ‘The Final Testament’ posits a Bronx-based Jesus Christ figure who indulges in substance abuse and sexual adventures with both men and women, controversy is sure to follow, once again.   

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