Novelist Takes Inspiration for Sequel from the Wild Midwest


“A large-hearted book about the everpresent fundamental human verities written with empathy, force, and verve.” – Ron Carlson, author of Five Skies and The Signal

“Richly imagined and so very poignant this novel [is] something special.” – Robert Olmstead, author of Coal Black Horse and Far Bright Star

Nazareth book coverKENSINGTON, MD — The messiah is on tour.

A splendid modern retelling of the story of the young messiah, Nazareth, North Dakota (Atticus Books, $14.95) is a quirky, dirt-kicking ride through the Badlands of North Dakota, a location Tommy Zurhellen knows well.

“I’ve solo hiked the Badlands a few times myself… in so many ways [it] is so isolated and distant,” Zurhellen says. The debut novelist returns to North Dakota and the Midwest for “Nazapalooza,” the tour for his adventurous, touching novel that weaves Lakota and Christian mythology into a contemporary setting.

Zurhellen, an avid outdoorsman and New York City native, is also taking the opportunity while on sabbatical—“which is academic-speak for being temporarily unemployed,” he says—to complete a sequel, Apostle Islands. In a path blazed by Thoreau, Zurhellen sleeps in a tent on national park land, heats coffee over a wood fire, and finds inspiration in the solitude.

Like its predecessor, Apostle Islands loosely follows the New Testament. Lake Superior features prominently in the sequel, as does the tiny Apostle Island northeast of Wisconsin’s Bayfield Peninsula. Apostle Islands is due from Atticus Books in summer 2012.

Tommy Zurhellen was born in New York City. Learn more about Tommy and his work at


Bismarck State College
Bismarck, ND

Zandbroz Variety
Fargo, ND

North Dakota State University
Fargo, ND

Gustavus Adolphus College
St. Peter, MN

Beloit College
Beloit, WI

Howland Library
Beacon, NY

Hyde Park Free Library
Hyde Park, NY

Barnes & Noble Booksellers
Poughkeepsie, NY

Starr Library
Rhinebeck, NY

Dutchess Community College
Poughkeepsie, NY



Nazareth, North Dakota
by Tommy Zurhellen
Atticus Books / April 2011 / $14.95 / 978-0-9845105-6-6 / 212 pages

Apostle Islands
by Tommy Zurhellen
Atticus Books / Summer 2012



Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top