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Gods Without Men
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Published:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2012
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Description
In the desert, you see, there is everything and nothing . . . It is God without men.
—Honoré de Balzac, Une passion dans le désert, 1830

Jaz and Lisa Matharu are plunged into a surreal public hell after their son, Raj, vanishes during a family vacation in the California desert. However, the Mojave is a place of strange power, and before Raj reappears inexplicably unharmed—but not unchanged—the fate of this young family will intersect with that of many others, echoing the stories of all those who have traveled before them.

Driven by the energy and cunning of Coyote, the mythic, shape-shifting trickster, Gods Without Men is full of big ideas, but centered on flesh-and-blood characters who converge at an odd, remote town in the shadow of a rock formation called the Pinnacles. Viscerally gripping and intellectually engaging, it is, above all, a heartfelt exploration of the search for pattern and meaning in a chaotic universe.
 
This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
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Street Date:
03/06/2012
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307957498
ASIN:
B005IQZ790
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Hari Kunzru. (2012). Gods Without Men. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Hari Kunzru. 2012. Gods Without Men. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Hari Kunzru, Gods Without Men. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Hari Kunzru. Gods Without Men. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2012. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Hari Kunzru is the author of the novels The Impressionist, Transmission, and My Revolutions, and is the recipient of the Somerset Maugham Award, the Betty Trask Prize from the Society of Authors, a British Book Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Granta has named him one of its twenty best young British novelists, and he was a Fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. His work has been translated into twenty-one languages, and his short stories and journalism have appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The New Yorker, the London Review of Books, Wired, and the New Statesman. He lives in New York City.
         
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title
Gods Without Men
fullDescription
In the desert, you see, there is everything and nothing . . . It is God without men.
—Honoré de Balzac, Une passion dans le désert, 1830

Jaz and Lisa Matharu are plunged into a surreal public hell after their son, Raj, vanishes during a family vacation in the California desert. However, the Mojave is a place of strange power, and before Raj reappears inexplicably unharmed—but not unchanged—the fate of this young family will intersect with that of many others, echoing the stories of all those who have traveled before them.

Driven by the energy and cunning of Coyote, the mythic, shape-shifting trickster, Gods Without Men is full of big ideas, but centered on flesh-and-blood characters who converge at an odd, remote town in the shadow of a rock formation called the Pinnacles. Viscerally gripping and intellectually engaging, it is, above all, a heartfelt exploration of the search for pattern and meaning in a chaotic universe.
 
This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Douglas Coupland, The New York Times Book Review
      • content:
        "A reflection and an embodiment of our new world of flattened time and space. . . . Gorgeous and wise."
      • premium: False
      • source: David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas
      • content: "A beautifully written echo chamber of a novel."
      • premium: False
      • source: Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
      • content: "A gripping thriller . . . Kunzru uses his extraordinary gifts as a storyteller--his brightly textured prose, his empathetic understanding of his characters, his narrative flair--to turn a tabloidy tale into a genuinely moving portrait of a marriage and the difficulties of parenthood."
      • premium: False
      • source: Marie Arana, The Washington Post
      • content: "Kunzru is wise beyond his years, [a] novelist in superb command of his craft. . . . In his dazzling new novel, a desert is the setting, hero and villain. . . . Here is where the walking wounded come to pray to Yahweh, Allah, Vishnu, Coyote, the Brothers of Light. Here are cynical veterans from WWII, hard-bitten GIs fresh from Iraq, randy communards, washed-up bankers, wasted groupies. Here is death, sex, and rock-and-roll."
      • premium: False
      • source: Darren Richard Carlaw, The New York Journal of Books
      • content: "A stunning achievement. . . . Gods Without Men will undoubtedly prove to be one of the most important works of fiction published this year."
      • premium: False
      • source: James Miller, The New York Observer
      • content: "Kunzru weaves an array of competing stories, turning the novel into a kaleidoscope of clashing perspectives. . . . Gods Without Men stands out as a courageous attempt to engage with the complexities of faith and doubt in our postmodern world."
      • premium: False
      • source: Library Journal (starred review)
      • content: "Gathers momentum, power, and a fierce clarify to deliver a rich panorama while detailing our mutual antagonisms and deepest spiritual needs . . . Extraordinary."
      • premium: False
      • source: Michele Filgate, O, The Oprah Magazine
      • content: "Mind-bending... [a] thrill ride of a novel about searching for truth."
      • premium: False
      • source: Rob Brunner, Entertainment Weekly
      • content: "A compelling exploration of cosmic-American weirdness."
      • premium: False
      • source: Christine A. Hurd, The Harvard Crimson
      • content: "The prose is beautiful, every character is fully developed... Through devotion to careful diction and seamless fluctuation between a dozen different writing voices, Kunzru's novel shines as brightly as the desert's setting sun"
      • premium: False
      • source: Booklist (starred review)
      • content: "Kunzru delivers a lively and frequently thrilling version of the quest novel."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Independent
      • content: "Compulsively readable, skillfully orchestrated . . . This really is Kunzru's great American novel."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Daily Telegraph
      • content: "Sometimes dizzying, sometimes puzzling, always enjoyable, Gods Without Men is one of the best novels of the year."
      • premium: False
      • source: Annie Proulx, Financial Times
      • content: "The literary skills of Hari Kunzru are evident throughout this complex and disturbing novel."
      • premium: False
      • source: The Guardian
      • content: "A countercultural mind-expanding quest . . . As a virtuoso performance, changing gears and styles every 20 pages or so, encompassing 18th-century friars and Hoxton hipsters, it will appeal to fans of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas . . . Extraordinary."
      • premium: False
      • source: Daily Mail
      • content: "Kunzru's lively fourth novel tackles its big themes without ever becoming ponderous or heavy-going. . . . Involving, thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        Starred review from January 9, 2012
        As characters in acclaimed British novelist Kunzru’s pitch-perfect masterwork tinker with machines for communicating with an interplanetary craft circling the Earth, their desperate quest for meaning is interrupted by a nonlinear mélange of other strange endeavors that span centuries and cross the Mojave Desert: British rocker Nicky Capaldi’s escape from L.A. in a convertible with a gold-plated Israeli handgun stowed in the glove box; beleaguered parents Jaz and Lisa Matharu’s disastrous vacation with their autistic four-year-old, Raj; former hippie commune “Guide” Judy’s return to the desert, strung out on meth; and traumatized Iraqi teen Laila’s participation as an actor in U.S. army war game facsimiles of Iraq. Presiding over it all are the Pinnacles, three fingers of rock that bear mute witness to Raj’s disappearance and the ensuing frantic search. Also on board are Fray Francisco Hermenegildo Tomás Garcés, a half-mad Jesuit missionary intent on converting Native Americans at the close of the 18th century; Deighton, a disfigured ethnologist, annoyed by the young, “half-educated” Eliza’s failure to recognize “the distinction he’d conferred on her by asking her to be his wife”; an aircraft mechanic named Schmidt working in the ’40s who feels betrayed by what the Enola Gay unleashed over Hiroshima; a working-class mother seduced by the possibility of fellowship with benevolent otherworldly beings; and a local girl who once lived with the hippies and who—even though she returns years later to run the motel where Nicky, Jaz, Lisa, and Raj briefly stay—suspects she has never quite returned. Kunzru’s (My Revolutions) ear for colloquial speech creates a cacophony that overlays his affectionate descriptions of the desolate landscape, creating a powerful effect akin to the distant cry of urgent voices crackling up and down the dial on a lonely drive through an American wasteland. Agent: Melissa Pimentel, Curtis Brown.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from December 15, 2011
        Hopscotching across time, looking quizzically at space, Kunzru's marvelous novel uses diverse cultures (Native American, Catholic, Mormon, Wall Street, hippie UFO believers) to speculate on the nature of reality and religion, magic and mystery. The novel is anchored by a time, a place and a relationship. The core year is 2008; we visit several other time periods. The place is the Three Pinnacles rock formation in the Mojave Desert. The relationship involves Jaz, an assimilated American Sikh, and his Jewish-American wife Lisa. Instead of a linear narrative, we have the energizing cross-currents of history. In 1947, Schmidt, an aircraft mechanic and World War II vet traumatized by Hiroshima, is alone at the Pinnacles, hoping to attract extraterrestrials with his message of universal love. Success! A spacecraft lands; he's welcomed aboard. (That same year saw the alleged UFO crash-landing in Roswell, N.M.) Meanwhile in Brooklyn in 2008, Jaz and Lisa are raising their autistic son Raj. Seems it's easier to talk to aliens than for the Matharus to communicate with their four-year-old. Kunzru's portrait of their marriage is finely nuanced. They're a modern, secular couple, yet shreds of old beliefs divide them. When they visit the Pinnacles on vacation and Raj disappears, the marriage almost comes apart. The rocks may be a crossing point into the Land of the Dead; they have witnessed much drama. Schmidt met a fiery end when his homemade space capsule blew up. An anthology professor holed up there and went mad after betraying a Native source to a bloodthirsty white posse. A Spanish friar saw God there in the 18th century. As for our century's tarnished magic, the computer trading program overseen by Jaz generates millions but wrecks the Honduran economy (collateral damage), while our royalty, rock stars, are represented by a worthless narcissist. Ironies abound; mysteries multiply; there's a cliffhanger ending for Jaz and Lisa. Kunzru (My Revolutions, 2007, etc.) just gets better and better. This fourth novel is an astonishing tour de force.

        (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        October 1, 2011

        The author of such cogent, sharply observed works as The Impressionist and My Revolutions, Kunzru returns with his first book set entirely in the United States. (British-born Kunzru recently moved from London to New York, where he is a Fellow at the New York Public Library's Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.) While New Yorkers Jaz and Lisa Matharu are vacationing in the starkly beautiful Mojave Desert, their autistic son goes missing. As they desperately hunt for him, they discover that the desert is hardly empty; in an isolated town called the Pinnacles, they encounter a host of unusual characters, including a wasted British rock star, a former UFO cultie, and a black marine who has befriended an adolescent Iraqi immigrant serving as a "villager" in a military simulation exercise. Top of the pile for me.

        Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from February 1, 2012
        In his assured and very entertaining fourth novel, Kunzru roams back and forth in time, homing in on disparate groups of seekers, all of whom converge on the formidable Three Pinnacles rocks in the Mojave Desert. The characters include a dissolute British rock musician seeking to escape a bad recording session in L.A. by ingesting hallucinogens, a small-town girl seduced by the bizarre beliefs of a UFO cult, a miner who mistakes the ill effects of mercury poisoning for a mystical experience, and a goth-girl refugee from Iraq. But at the center of the novel is a wealthy New York couple who become the focus of a media firestorm when their autistic four-year-old son vanishes in the desert. The hostile and accusatory e-mails and Internet posts directed at the couple in the wake of their son's disappearance are just one of a number of brilliant flourishes Kunzru employs here as he explores humans' desperate search for meaningwhether it be through drugs, religion, computer programming, or UFOswithin the chaos of life, both modern and ancient. Working a subject that might easily have invited a heavy hand, Kunzru instead delivers a lively and frequently thrilling version of the quest novel.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2012, American Library Association.)

popularity
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shortDescription
In the desert, you see, there is everything and nothing . . . It is God without men.
—Honoré de Balzac, Une passion dans le désert, 1830

Jaz and Lisa Matharu are plunged into a surreal public hell after their son, Raj, vanishes during a family vacation in the California desert. However, the Mojave is a place of strange power, and before Raj reappears inexplicably unharmed—but not unchanged—the fate of this young family will intersect with that of many others, echoing the stories of all those who have traveled before them.

Driven by the energy and cunning of Coyote, the mythic, shape-shifting trickster, Gods Without Men is full of big ideas, but centered on flesh-and-blood characters who converge at an odd, remote town in the shadow of a rock formation called the Pinnacles. Viscerally gripping and intellectually engaging, it is, above all, a heartfelt exploration of the search for pattern and meaning in a...
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