Rock singer. Hard drinker, hard ‘player’. Friend of underworld figures, bikies and gays. 

This is the image of an ‘Aussie Jesus’ presented to a capacity crowd who attended the launch of a new book that re-imagines the Jesus story in 1960s Australia on 24 July at the Readings bookshop in Carlton.  A spokesperson from Readings said it was ‘the biggest crowd they could remember for a book launch at the store’.

The Songs of Jesse Adams sets the familiar story into the streets of St Kilda, Fitzroy and other inner-city Melbourne settings. Sydney’s King’s Cross, at the height of its sixties seediness and where the main character keeps a small flat above a tattoo parlour, also features heavily. The ‘Jesus’ figure, Jesse Adams, wades into controversy, destroying churches, invading parliament and challenging the ANZAC myth in what develops into a pub brawl.

In launching the book, Tim Costello linked the contemporary Jesus figure to the World AIDS Conference currently underway in Melbourne and ongoing controversy about Australia’s handling of refugees. ‘We are in danger of losing sight of the concept of human dignity and what it means to value the life of each human being,’ he said to the standing-room-only event. ‘This sense of dignity was novel back two thousand years ago when “the greatest story” unfolded and it comes through loud and clear in the person of Jesse Adams.’

Author Peter McKinnon, a former business executive and now full-time writer, said that the book was about ‘what happens when someone says “yes” to you when all the world is saying “no” … that what you believe changes things and changes you in the process.’

To purchase your own copy of this book, follow this link.

SOJA launch cropped

Emma McQueen at the book launch on 24 July. Looks like she’s bought one to read and one to give away!