MY BROTHER’S KEEPER, a novel about the family of Jesus, by Michigan author Bill Kassel, has received the 2018 Catholic Arts & Letters Award — known as the “Lily” — from the Catholic Writers Guild. The award was announced Wednesday, August 1, at the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show, held in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. It was this year’s choice in the Adult Fiction category.
An epic historical/religious novel in three parts, MY BROTHER’S KEEPER draws both on the Bible and on ancient non-canonical writings and Church traditions to provide a retelling of the Christian story that is imaginative and unconventional. The plot focuses on James, a principal figure in the early Christian community of Jerusalem who played a crucial role in the first council of the Church, and whom the Bible identifies as “the brother of the Lord.”
In the book, James struggles to fulfill a promise made to his dying father, Joseph, that he will protect his brother, amid growing discord over Jesus’ controversial ministry. Fulfilling this pledge becomes the consuming focus of James’ life as his brother runs afoul of Temple authorities and Zealot rebels attempt to exploit his growing popularity — their goal to foment a revolution against the hated Roman occupiers.
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER was released as an eBook in 2016, with a custom, limited-run print pre-edition created for listeners of Ave Maria Radio, the national Catholic programming service affiliated with EWTN Global Catholic Radio. The first commercial print edition was released last year and premiered to book dealers at CMN’s 2017 Trade Show.
A longtime professional writer, Kassel has been a journalist, advertising copywriter, and public relations consultant. He’s held creative staff positions with such prestigious companies as Dow Jones and McGraw-Hill. He was also director of public affairs for Hillsdale College, and director of communications for The Ave Maria Foundation. Kassel noted that being honored by the Catholic Writers Guild is especially meaningful to him. “Bringing this work to public awareness has been a challenge,” he said. “So I want to express my sincerest gratitude for the recognition afforded by the ‘Lily’ Award, given by my brother and sister Catholic writers.”
MY BROTHER’S KEEPER was certified as consistent with Scripture and Church teaching by the Guild earlier this year. The book is distributed by the Sycamore, Illinois-based Saint Joseph Communications.