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The Book Against God

A Novel

James Wood

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

A Passionate, Profoundly Funny First Novel from “the Best Literary Critic of His Generation” (Adam Begley, Financial Times)

Thomas Bunting, the charming, chaotic, and deeply untruthful narrator of James Wood’s wonderful first novel, is in despair. His marriage is disintegrating and his academic career is in ruins: instead of completing his philosophy Ph.D. (still unfinished after seven years), he is secretly writing what he hopes will be his masterwork, a vast atheistic project he has privately entitled “The Book Against God.”

But when his father suddenly falls ill, Thomas returns to the tiny village in the north of England where he grew up and where his father still works as a parish priest. There, Thomas hopes, he may finally be able to communicate honestly with his father, a brilliant and formidable Christian example, and sort out his own wayward life. But Thomas is a chronic liar as well as an atheist, and he finds, instead, that once at home he soon reverts to the evasive patterns of his childhood years—with disastrous results.

The story of a husband and wife, a father and son, faith and disbelief, and a hero who couldn’t tell the truth if his life depended on it, The Book Against God is at once hilarious and poignant; it introduces an original comic voice—edgy, elegiac, lyrical, and indignant—and, in the irrepressible Thomas Bunting, one of the strangest philosophers in contemporary fiction.

BOOK EXCERPTS

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  The Book Against God
1I DENIED MY FATHER THREE TIMES, twice before he died, once afterwards.The obituaries editor of The Times was responsible for my first denial. That was almost two years ago. I was still living with my wife, Jane Sheridan, but we were constantly arguing. At University College, where I was teaching philosophy, I had become one of those figures whom students romanticize and sometimes even pity. I didn’t have the proper qualifications, and the classes I gave were printed on the curriculum brochure—grudgingly, I felt—in a different coloured ink from the
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REVIEWS

Praise for The Book Against God

"James Wood has delivered an elegant novel of ideas in the form of a mordant social comedy. The depiction of its breathtakingly objectionable narrator is brilliant . . . For intellectual pleasure, low comedy, acute psychological portraiture, this is a book to savor."
--Norman Rush
"James Wood has delivered an elegant novel of ideas in the form of a mordant social comedy. The depiction of its breathtakingly objectionable narrator is brilliant . . . For intellectual pleasure, low comedy, acute psychological portraiture, this is a book to savor."
--Norman Rush

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • James Wood

  • James Wood was chief literary critic of The Guardian (London) and is senior editor at The New Republic. His first collection of essays, The Broken Estate, was published in 1999. He lives in Washington, D.C.
  • James Wood ©Miriam Berkley
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The Book Against God

A Novel

James Wood

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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