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Gods Without Men

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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.

Publishers Weekly Review

Jan 09, 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.

Customer Reviews



Easy to read but no real plot

The author goes to a lot of trouble to spin an elaborate yarn about alien abduction and the mysticism surrounding places similar to remote southwestern desert areas such as area 57, as well as making a big deal about cultural bigotry and attempts at statements about racism that you may find humorous if your family falls into that category, but by themselves fall flat on their faces. This novel jumps all over the place, which is too bad because the writing style is decent with a great deal of well-integrated humor, and some of the novelettes are an interesting read, but it's hard to tie it all together. One of those books where you spend several hours of your life and are left feeling somewhat cheated, quite frankly. Having read it and thought about it, I still don't know what this novel is about. If I had to read it again, i'd get the audiobook so you can listen while you're tied up in traffic or can otherwise set your brain on the desk.

Gods Without Men
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: Mar 06, 2012
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 480 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings