Wednesday, 18 August 2010

A Year in Books 2010 - I Lucifer

"I Lucifer" is a 2002 novel by Glen Duncan often featured in the press on those "Best Young Novelist" list (I think the world of literature operates on a different age scale to the rest of the world, you seem to need to be 45 before you stop being referred to as a young novelist).

The book sees Lucifer tell his own story, from his time as an angel, his fall from grace and the part he played in Eden , at the crucifixtion, the Inquisition, the rise of nazism etc.

The reason we get to hear his story is that the end is nigh and God is giving him one last chance of redemption. He gets to inhabit the body of failed author and recent suicide and if he can lead a reasonably blameless life then he will be welcomed back into heaven with open arms. Lucifer is using this opportunity to have some fun and get a film made telling his side of the story. What he didn't bank on is the rush on his senses that being human gives him and that a sense of doubt and humanity would begin to worm it's way in.

The whole book is told in Lucifer's voice and it is a playful, reasonable , charming , funny voice , exactly the kind of voice that would get into trouble and could get you thinking about doing a deal for your soul. The novel's biggest strength is this but it also means that there is no let up and there are times where you want a break, another perspective to sift through the smoke and mirrors that Lucifer throws up. Only at the end do we hear other voices, firstly an exasperated angel Raphael and then finally the returned screenwriter.

What Glen Duncan does so well are 2 things , beneath the likable Lucifer's voice there is alaways a slight tone of menace, the occaisional throw away line lets slip a true heart of darkness. The other thing is how he combines history , angel lore, biblical references and touch points but filters them through a modern voice.

It is slight and it is fun but I Lucifer has a deeper under current , the question of what it means to be human

You can buy I Lucifer here


  1. I've had this book on my to-read list for years... I must get around to it.

    If I remember correctly, the band The Real Tuesday Weld did an album based entirely round this book.

  2. Hi Rol

    my version of the paperback mentions an accompanying lp by the band you mention. I've no idea what it sounds like but reading the book has made me want to do a bit of internet searching


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