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The Opposite of Art: A Novel Paperback – September 13, 2011

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Editorial Reviews


"Dickson's writing paints glorious pictures of each exotic locale, while weaving a most compelling story that includes elements of religion, art, murder, and redemption. Highly recommended read to lovers of art and suspense. Completely enjoyable." (CBA Retailers + Resources)

“Exquisitely written, meticulously researched, and richly detailed, Athol Dickson's The Opposite of Art is a fascinating and magical journey into the worlds of art and faith, murder and intrigue.” (Maurice Possley, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author)

“After reading the first chapter, I felt an overwhelming need to know what happened next. Forget the ringing phone, never mind dinner, tell the children to pipe down—I had to keep reading. And I discovered that powerful opening was followed by a fully-developed story satisfying in every way. The Opposite of Art is a beautiful novel.” (Sibella Giorello, author of the award-winning Raleigh Harmon Series)

The Opposite of Art draws the reader in a way seldom accomplished in a novel. A powerful, moving story of reconciliation and redemption. Dickson has written another page-turner.” (Eric Wiggin, author of Blood Moon Rising)

“Masterful imagery, unforgettable characters, and a compelling journey in search of answers to the fundamental questions of life. A book to be savored, themes to be discussed with friends, and a story to treasure for years to come.” (Stephanie Grace Whitson, novelist, public speaker, historian)

The Opposite of Art is classic Athol Dickson: a powerful, well-crafted story with thoughtful symbolism and deep resonance. A masterpiece! Dickson had better clear a shelf for all the awards this book will win.” (Rick Acker, author of When the Devil Whistles and Dead Man's Rule)

“Dickson’s novel shimmers on the page like a work of art itself, inviting readers to step beyond the evocative prose into the deeper truths within its pages. At once suspenseful and captivating, The Opposite of Art is impossible to put down and impossible to forget." (T.L. Higley, author of Petra: City in Stone and Pompeii: City on Fire)

The Opposite of Art is mesmerizing, intriguing, and inspiring; a story that stays with you long after the last page." (Nancy Moser, author of An Unlikely Suitor and Masquerade)

“Athol's passionate, lyrical storytelling reminds me a bit of Salman Rushdie's Shalimar the Clown. Sheridan Ridler's artistic search for Glory is a journey into hope, and I'm profoundly grateful for the privilege of going along.” (Elizabeth White, author of ACFW Carol Award–winning Controlling Interest)

The Opposite of Art pulled me in from the first page and held me captive. Characters that are richly drawn, a plot that twists and turns. What a stunning read!” (Traci DePree, author of Into the Wilderness)

“Athol Dickson has created an elegant and gritty masterpiece, nuanced by allegory and delivered in resplendent prose. This lyrical novel can’t be rushed; it must be sipped, savored, and pondered to attain the lasting afterglow.” (Kristen Heitzmann, award-winning author of Indivisible, Secrets, and The Tender Vine)

"Athol Dickson truly is one of the most gifted storytellers of our day. His imagination is exquisite and his word choices artistic. The Opposite of Art will live within me for a very long time." (Tamera Alexander, bestselling author of Within My Heart and The Inheritance)

“Dickson's latest work is breathtaking, sad and terrible, ugly and glorious, and shocking all at once, as full of grace as it is of truth. Unforgettable.” (DeAnna Julie Dodson, author of In Honor Bound)

“Once again Athol Dickson proves his skill as a writer as he takes his readers on a pilgrimage. The story spins through continents and characters but never leaves the reader behind. This is more than a novel. It is an experience. Once again, Dickson triumphs.” (Marcia Lee Laycock, author of One Smooth Stone, devotional columnist at

“Athol Dickson pens an honest, gritty story of an artist tormented by love. He takes the reader into the world of art, greed, murder, and mystery. If you value art, mysteries, a wild ride across time, and around the globe, you’ll enjoy The Opposite of Art!” (Nora St.Laurent, founder of The Book Club Network,

About the Author

Athol Dickson is the publisher of the popular news website,, and the author of seven novels and the bestselling memoir, The Gospel according to Moses. His novels of suspense and magical realism have been honored with three Christy Awards and an Audie Award, and compared to the work of Octavia Butler (by Publisher’s Weekly) and Flannery O’Connor (by The New York Times). He and his wife live in Southern California.

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Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: Howard Books; Original edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416583483
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416583486
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,350,645 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

A master of profound suspense.

Athol Dickson's mystery, suspense, and literary novels have won three Christy Awards and an Audie Award. Suspense fans who enjoyed Athol's They Shall See God will love his latest novel, January Justice, the first installment in a new mystery series called The Malcolm Cutter Memoirs. The second and third novels in the series, Free Fall in February, and A March Murder, are coming in 2013.

Critics have favorably compared Athol's work to such diverse authors as Octavia Butler (Publisher's Weekly), Hermann Hesse (The New York Journal of Books) and Flannery O'Connor (The New York Times). Athol lives with his wife in southern California. Please visit his website at, and like his Facebook fan page.

Praise for Athol Dickson's novels:

"Atmospheric, well-paced and powerfully imagined . . . a highly entertaining nail-biter." (Publishers Weekly)

". . . richly imagined . . . lyrically written . . . artfully constructed." (Bookwire)

". . . well-written . . . intelligent . . . suspenseful . . . engrossing." (Library Journal)

". . . elegant prose . . . very well written." (The New York Review of Books )

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Melissa VINE VOICE on October 1, 2011
Format: Paperback
Sheridan Ridler was a master painter, but also a brilliant, selfish jerk. Wrapped in pride, he truly believed there was no image he could not capture. That is until an attempted murder plunged him into the Harlem River. For several minutes, Ridler's heart stopped beating. While he lay dead, he saw a beauty that for the next twenty-five years he'd wandered the globe trying to capture on canvas. His journey took him to many countries, where he sought insight from various religions in an effort to remember the Glory he saw on the bank of the Harlem River. However, when word spread that this talented artist might still be alive, his daughter, Gemma, began an active search for him. But she's not the only one who wants to find him--so does the man who thought he killed Ridler twenty-five years ago and this time he intends to make sure he succeeds. In a murder mystery/spiritual journey that spans decades and countries, The Opposite of Art is a brilliant combination of suspense, spiritual insight, and pure entertainment.

I've wanted to read Athol Dickson's books for some time, but have been a little scared. I mean, what if I'm not smart enough for his books? He's been praised for his beautiful imagery and deep, meaningful novels, what if I don't get it? What if it's that piece of art that's just a blob of paint to me, but moves others to tears? So with these thoughts in my head, I summoned my courage and took the plunge into the world of Athol Dickson. Not only did I discover that this book does contain beautiful imagery and remarkable insight, The Opposite of Art is also quite readable to those that do not possess a PHD.

I still cannot believe how much I enjoyed Ridler's character. I love flawed characters, but this guy could have had the opposite effect.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Yvonne Anderson on September 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
The title intrigues, causing us to think, to wonder. The opening line awakens our imagination. The first paragraph lets us know on no uncertain terms that we're in the hands of an artist.

Perhaps the author is a little like the protagonist, Sheridan Ridler - a genius with oils whose search for the perfection of beauty drives his life. Though only in his twenties, he's already making his mark on the art world. That is, until the winter's night he's thrown into the Harlem River by a hit-and-run driver, and his body is never found.

During his near-death experience, he catches a glimpse of an indescribable beauty, and emerges from the river obsessed with the desire to recreate the Glory in whatever medium he can get his hands on. But it's too marvelous; he can't attain it. Just when he thinks he's getting it, he realizes he can't approach it. Not sure what's happened to him, nor even, at first, who he is, he wanders in search of answers. But mostly, in search of the Glory.

Ridler leads the reader on a quest around the world as he seeks help from holy men, traveling from New York to the jungles of Thailand, the bazaars of Istanbul, the desert city of Tel Aviv, the Eternal City of Rome, a massive shrine in Mexico, and finally, to a traveling circus in New Mexico. Wherever his foot falls, he reaches for the Glory, to capture and enshrine it in paint; but in every place he seeks it, it's just beyond his grasp.

Throughout his quarter-century pilgrimage, he's unaware that he has a daughter--and she's unaware that he, the father she never knew but has always idolized, is alive.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Klepfer VINE VOICE on August 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
Athol Dickson writes like no one else. He is a storyteller with impeccable timing and the ability to wend oddities and knowledge into the narrative of his books. His writing is compelling and at times beautiful, pregnant with meaning and symbolism and hidden truths about the human condition. Other times he paints less than flattering pictures that are as stark and as poignant as the beautiful scenes.

His characters are deep, though sometimes they are fleeting. Rich narrative introspection gives insight into a character's drives and behaviors but still leaves the reader with plenty of unanswered questions to digest.

The Opposite of Art centerpiece is focused on a painter. A famous and tortured painter who trashes a relationship with the only person he's ever loved. An accident leaves him presumed dead, and in a sense reborn. Gone is his selfish drive to feed his needs with women and drugs, it has been replaced with a yawning emptiness that leaves him exhausting himself trying to chase what he thinks might fill it. An epic spiritual journey spanning decades begins, and is told through stories and memories. Add to the palette, a young woman with father hunger, a man obsessed to possess what had belonged to the artist, and another seeking justice and peace.

Not a light read. Expect to need to put it down and ponder. Expect to be challenged. Though deeply spiritual, fans of traditional and tamer Christian Fiction may find some of the subject matter offensive. And those who want neatly buttoned up stories may find the ending frustrating. Also, this story is very literary, full of descriptions and lighter on action. If you like fast moving, action packed adventures, or a clear-cut Christian doctrine filled narrative you may want to dig a little deeper before purchasing.
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