Elders by Ryan McIlvain
A Novel

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McIlvain makes both characters sympathetic and hateful at different points of the story, as their missionary work is alternately stymied by McLeod’s childishness and Passos’ ambition.
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Synopsis

A glorious debut that T.C. Boyle calls "powerful and deeply moving" that follows two young Mormon missionaries in Brazil and their tense, peculiar friendship.

Elder McLeod—outspoken, surly, a brash American—is nearing the end of his mission in Brazil. For nearly two years he has spent his days studying the Bible and the Book of Mormon, knocking on doors, teaching missionary lessons—“experimenting on the word.” His new partner is Elder Passos, a devout, ambitious Brazilian who found salvation and solace in the church after his mother’s early death. The two men are at first suspicious of each other, and their work together is frustrating, fruitless. That changes when a beautiful woman and her husband offer the missionaries a chance to be heard, to put all of their practice to good use, to test the mettle of their faith.  But before they can bring the couple to baptism, they must confront their own long-held beliefs and doubts, and the simmering tensions at the heart of their friendship.
            A novel of unsparing honesty and beauty, Elders announces Ryan McIlvain as a writer of enormous talent.
 

About Ryan McIlvain

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RYAN MCILVAIN is a sixth-generation Mormon who resigned his membership from the Mormon church in his mid-twenties. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in many journals, including The Paris Review, where a portion of this novel first appeared. A Stegner fellow in fiction at Stanford from 2009 to 2011, McIlvain currently lives in Los Angeles.


Author Residence: Los Angeles
 
Published March 5, 2013 by Hogarth. 305 pages
Genres: Religion & Spirituality, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Samantha Nelson on Apr 29 2013

McIlvain makes both characters sympathetic and hateful at different points of the story, as their missionary work is alternately stymied by McLeod’s childishness and Passos’ ambition.

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