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Gods Without Men Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 6, 2012

3.6 out of 5 stars 82 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"A reflection and an embodiment of our new world of flattened time and space. . . . Gorgeous and wise." —Douglas Coupland, The New York Times Book Review

“A beautifully written echo chamber of a novel.” —David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas

“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.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“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.” —Marie Arana, The Washington Post

“A stunning achievement. . . . Gods Without Men will undoubtedly prove to be one of the most important works of fiction published this year.” —Darren Richard Carlaw, The New York Journal of Books

“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.” —James Miller, The New York Observer

“[A] pitch-perfect masterwork.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An astonishing tour de force.” —Kirkus (starred review)
“Gathers momentum, power, and a fierce clarify to deliver a rich panorama while detailing our mutual antagonisms and deepest spiritual needs . . . Extraordinary.” —Library Journal (starred review)

“Mind-bending… [a] thrill ride of a novel about searching for truth.” —Michele Filgate, O, The Oprah Magazine

“A compelling exploration of cosmic-American weirdness.” —Rob Brunner, Entertainment Weekly

“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” —Christine A. Hurd, The Harvard Crimson

“Kunzru delivers a lively and frequently thrilling version of the quest novel.” —Booklist (starred review)
“Compulsively readable, skillfully orchestrated . . . This really is Kunzru’s great American novel.” —The Independent
“Sometimes dizzying, sometimes puzzling, always enjoyable, Gods Without Men is one of the best novels of the year.” —The Daily Telegraph
“The literary skills of Hari Kunzru are evident throughout this complex and disturbing novel.” —Annie Proulx, Financial Times
 “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.” —The Guardian
“Kunzru’s lively fourth novel tackles its big themes without ever becoming ponderous or heavy-going. . . . Involving, thoughtful and thoroughly entertaining.” —Daily Mail

About the Author

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; 1 edition (March 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780307957115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307957115
  • ASIN: 030795711X
  • Product Dimensions: 6.6 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,298,876 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Quite literally at the heart of Hari Kunzru's latest novel stands not a person, but strange geographical feature in the California desert - three large rocks known as "The Pinnacles". If you've ever looked at a feature of the landscape and wonder what it has meant to those who have gone before, then you will find a similar stance here. Kunzru's episodic narrative takes in various points in time from 1775 to 2009 all of which centre around this rock structure which has had different meanings for different generations. There are echoes of the past in each new version, but no more than that.

It's hugely ambitious, and much more so that the other Kunzru novels that I have read, although it shares with his other books the playful but insightful writing style. He's a writer that has a real feel for human nature. However, for me, it doesn't quite succeed in rising to its ambition. It leaps back and forward in time frame from chapter to chapter in a manner that is disorienting and I couldn't help wondering if it would have been more effective presented as discrete short stories that shared a similar stimulus - which is effectively what it is.

Where I was most frustrated though was in the imbalance of the weight and emotional connection to the different threads. By far the dominant thread surrounds the disappearance of an autistic son of a wealthy New York couple set in 2008. The story covers both the father and mother's side and the lead up to the disappearance and the subsequent media furore. It's frighteningly realistic and disturbing with real emotional heart. The problem as far at the book is concerned is that it is such a terrifically well told story that I started to yearn to return to these events when Kunzru wants to draw the reader back to another time.
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Format: Paperback
Beautifully written, this novel takes us on a journey through time, where we meet a diverse cast of characters all of whose lives are affected in some way by the location in which they find themselves, the empty and mysterious Californian desert.

Each of the various tales is lovingly told and our sympathy is demanded for, and easily given to, each of the characters: from the original Native American inhabitants, to the new-age followers of the UFO cult of the Ashtar Galactic Command, right up to the lost and lonely rock star of today. And our main sympathies lie with the young couple, Jaz and Lisa, whose autistic son, Raj, mysteriously disappears during a trip to the desert - a disappearance that echoes earlier incidents in the history of this strange place.

I think this is a book that may mean different things to different readers. For me, it was about the search for faith. The characters bring so many gods to the desert over the years, and it seems that the desert absorbs them and weaves them into its mystery. Each of the characters is fundamentally changed by their experiences in this place - their existing beliefs shaken by what happens to them there. But the book is not preaching a particular line - the overwhelming feeling left at the end is that, for the author as well as for some of the characters, the question of whether there is something beyond the rational remains unanswered, perhaps unanswerable.

This may make the book sound like a heavy read, but the wonderful prose, the fascinating tales, the occasional flashes of humour and, above all, the sympathetic characters all combine to make this a book to be both savoured and enjoyed.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What an annoying, unsatisfying book. Kunzru wastes our time setting up a premise, or several premises - and then lacks the courage or imagination to resolve any of the questions he raises. I might flatter the author by hypothesizing that the absence of an ending or an explanation is itself the point: that the human condition is to spend our lives wandering in the desert seeking in vain for answers to the big existential questions, as we soothe ourselves with religion in the meantime. If the book were simply about the myriad ways that we delude ourselves into thinking there's something bigger going on in the universe, if it were merely a commentary on our capacity to invent one god myth after another and then bow down to it as if it were real, I could live with that, although it wouldn't be news.

But I'm not feeling magnanimous, because Kunzru took me on a wild goose chase through that long, hot desert, all the while making tantalizing insinuations about that something bigger without ever taking a stand. Something does happen in this book: an autistic child is mysteriously kidnapped in the desert, mysteriously comes back months later, and mysteriously begins to become normal. And this event mirrors an earlier one in the book in which another child is mysteriously kidnapped in the desert and later returned. Kunzru invents a real mystery, and then surrounds the mystery with many variations on the theme of self-deluded religiosity. So, are we self-deluded, or not? Did something happen, or didn't it? Are our religious myths an attempt to rationalize or explain real paranormal phenomena or the existence of extraterrestrial life? Are all these things true at the same time? Kunzru doesn't say. GODS WITHOUT MEN is a giant cop-out.
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