Zurhellen’s Messiah Trilogy Strikes Gold, Again


MADISON, N.J. — Atticus author Tommy Zurhellen is writing his way across the country with his Messiah Trilogy, a modern retelling of the New Testament, spanning the North Dakota Badlands to the shores of Lake Erie.

Last year, Zurhellen’s debut novel, Nazareth, North Dakota, won the Independent Publisher Book Award (IPPY) for Best Regional Fiction in the Midwest. This year as fictional hero Sam Davidson made the pilgrimage east, Zurhellen’s sequel, Apostle Islands, won the IPPY gold medal for Best Regional Fiction in the Great Lakes.

The artfully, irreverently told tales (both with book cover designs by UK artist Jamie Keenan) stay true to biblical parallels while throwing out the traditional portrayal of Jesus with the holy water.

Nazareth, North Dakota by Tommy ZurhellenNazareth, North Dakota is a quirky, dirt-kicking ride through the 1980s North Dakota Badlands and a modern take on the story of the young messiah. It’s an adventurous, irresistible tale about everything from a 31-year-old fugitive mom who escapes a motel shootout with an abandoned newborn to a corrupt sheriff, a kindhearted carpenter, and the chosen paths of two hell-raising, miracle-bent cousins.

“Zurhellen’s masterful dialogue often makes for gripping scenes that sustain these characters for decades.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY


Apostle Islands follows Sam Davidson and his group of roughneck followers as they save wedding receptions, cure cancer patients, and boost a flagging fishing season, all while breaking bread and laws and making peace and enemies. On a mission to change one botched up world, Sam knows he will one day be called to make the ultimate sacrifice, and indeed he sees the writing on the shores of Lake Superior when one of his inner circle betrays him.

“No one can miss the premise with which the book opens, which is both universally timeless and contemporary, theological, and secular: ‘Forget everything you know about heroes.’ If Jesus needs new PR, this is one imaginative possibility.” — PUBLISHERS WEEKLY


Atticus Books is no stranger to winning Best Regional Fiction IPPY awards as it took home the gold with four debut novels last year, including John Minichillo’s The Snow Whale, J M Tohline’s The Great Lenore, Eric D. Goodman’s Tracks, and Zurhellen’s novel, plus a gold medal for Alex Kudera’s debut novel, Fight for Your Long Day, in 2011.

In 2013 the IPPYs chose 382 medalists out of 5,200 entries. Tommy Z and the rest of the IPPY medal winners will celebrate their achievement on May 29 at Providence NYC, the night before the kickoff of BookExpo America in New York.


2013 marks the 17th year of the annual IPPY competition, held exclusively for independent publishers. The objective of the IPPYs is to “bring increased recognition to deserving but often unsung titles” and honor authors and publishers who aren’t afraid to take risks and delve into new territory.

Atticus Books is a multimedia press that specializes in literary fiction. Atticus is run by founder and publisher Dan Cafaro and managing editor Libby O’Neill. Visit us on the web at https://atticusbooks.net/.


Contact: Abby Hess, Publicity Assistant
abbyh@atticusbooks.net / 570.419.1190


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