This first novel is getting a lot of attention because its author, New Republic book critic James Wood, is known for his merciless criticism of well-known novelists. But of greater interest to Christian Century readers is its handling of religious themes.
Thomas Bunting, the first-person narrator, is a philosophy student who puts off finishing his Ph.D. thesis in order to work on a personal project called the Book Against God (BAG), in which he develops arguments against belief in God.
While the novel moves in and out of various time frames, in the narrative present Tom's wife, Jane, has left him, and his father has died. The primary motivation for Tom's anti-God obsession lies in his relationship with his father, Peter, a respected country vicar in the north of England. Peter, like his son, was well read and "prided himself on his worldly sense of humour, aware that this was rare in priests."
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