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Sat Dec 20, 2014, 11:25 AM

 

Religious Reading

By JOHN WILLIAMS
DEC. 19, 2014

The Book Review turns its attention to spiritual matters this week with a special issue on world religion. We took the opportunity to ask a few writers to recommend novels with religious themes, preferably lesser known. (If you don’t already know you should read Marilynne Robinson’s “Gilead,” well, you should.)

Cynthia Ozick named “The Second Scroll” (1951), the only novel by the Canadian poet A. M. Klein. It tells of a journey to the recently established Israel. “Influenced yet liberated by Joyce,” Ozick said, “forged in the laboratory of the English language as it exerts all its fathomless force, immersed simultaneously in Bible, Hebrew, Jerusalem and 20th-century history, this prophetically intricate work is the antithesis of what we have come to expect of the so-called — and largely secular — Jewish-American novel. (Think not Roth but Blake.)”

The poet and essayist Christian Wiman also suggested a novel by a writer known for poetry. “Any real faith includes, rather than simply refutes, atheism,” he said. “Fanny Howe’s brilliant novel ‘Indivisible’ gives as stark and marvelous a rendering of this truth as any book I know.”

The novelist Christopher Beha cited Evelyn Waugh’s “The Sword of Honor” trilogy. “I think it is Waugh’s best work, and it is also one of his most explicitly religious,” Beha said. “As a traditionalist Catholic, Waugh was deeply disappointed by the Allied partnership with the Soviet Union, and the underlying theme of the book — that a civilization under threat won’t survive by abandoning what is worth preserving about it — is one worth remembering.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/books/review/religious-reading.html?_r=0

http://www.nytimes.com/pages/books/review/index.html

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Sat Dec 20, 2014, 11:42 AM

1. Marilynne Robinson has a new novel, "Lila", out.

John Ames, a character in Gilead, is also a character in Lila.

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