Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru

56%

28 Critic Reviews

At times, Gods Without Men comes close to turning into a catalogue of the horrors of Western cultural imperialism through the ages.
-AV Club

Synopsis

In the desert, you see, there is everything and nothing . . . It is God without men.
—Honoré de Balzac, Une passion dans le désert, 1830

Jaz and Lisa Matharu are plunged into a surreal public hell after their son, Raj, vanishes during a family vacation in the California desert. However, the Mojave is a place of strange power, and before Raj reappears inexplicably unharmed—but not unchanged—the fate of this young family will intersect with that of many others, echoing the stories of all those who have traveled before them.

Driven by the energy and cunning of Coyote, the mythic, shape-shifting trickster, Gods Without Men is full of big ideas, but centered on flesh-and-blood characters who converge at an odd, remote town in the shadow of a rock formation called the Pinnacles. Viscerally gripping and intellectually engaging, it is, above all, a heartfelt exploration of the search for pattern and meaning in a chaotic universe.
 
This eBook edition includes a Reading Group Guide.
 

About Hari Kunzru

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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. www.harikunzru.com
 
Published March 6, 2012 by Vintage. 482 pages
Genres: Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Gods Without Men
All: 28 | Positive: 13 | Negative: 15

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus' Reviews on Dec 15 2011

Kunzru (My Revolutions, 2007, etc.) just gets better and better. 

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NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Douglas Coupland on Mar 08 2012

The ultimate theme of “Gods Without Men” is interconnectivity across time and space, just as interconnectedness defines the here and now.

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NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Mar 06 2012

In the end, all the philosophizing and subplots are never persuasively integrated here: they attest to this immensely gifted writer’s ambitions but end up doing a disservice to his talents.

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Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Roz Shea on Mar 15 2012

 Its award-winning status and provocative content may find it becoming a popular discussion piece for reading groups and college writing classes.

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Washington Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Claire Hopley on Mar 23 2012

The ambition and originality of “Gods Without Men,” his fourth novel, will confirm his position as an important writer. 

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Toronto Star

Excellent
Reviewed by Nancy Wigston on Mar 17 2012

British novelist Hari Kunzru blows us away with his high-energy saga about —among much else — a child’s disappearance in a mysterious corner of the California desert. 

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AV Club

Below average
Reviewed by Vadim Rizov on Apr 02 2012

At times, Gods Without Men comes close to turning into a catalogue of the horrors of Western cultural imperialism through the ages.

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National Post arts

Below average
Reviewed by Mike Doherty on Mar 09 2012

Readers may be unsettled by this game-playing: Kunzru has told Granta he used Coyote “to undo novelistic conventions by refusing to tie up the threads and show what the characters were searching for, or found.” 

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Entertainment Weekly

Below average
Reviewed by Rob Brunner on Mar 07 2012

While Gods Without Men isn't always narratively satisfying, it's still a compelling exploration of cosmic-American weirdness. 

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LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by David L. Ulin on Mar 11 2012

"Gods Without Men" is all about such issues, the attempt to piece together a fallen world. 

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Dallas News

Below average
Reviewed by Alan Cheuse on Mar 10 2012

I’m not trying to scare you away when I say that it will take some deep concentration to keep track of these various, mostly long, patches of narrative before they all begin to come together to make a larger piece of awareness

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Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Barry Wightman

Kunzru beautifully captures the voice, tone and melody of each time and place, from the diary of the Spanish friar to today’s Park Slope, Brooklyn, to Nicky, the pale and scrawny British popstar. 

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Don Waters on Mar 11 2012

Still, by some feat of cunning, Kunzru skillfully links together the fully realized lives of his characters by their cosmic ideas and their ongoing search for meaning.

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Denver Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Marie Arana on Mar 14 2012

Kunzru's "Gods Without Men" is a great, sprawling narrative, as vast as the canvas on which it is written.

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Slate

Below average
Reviewed by David Haglund on Mar 03 2012

But I admire Gods Without Men more than I enjoyed it.

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Newsday

Below average
Reviewed by Gene Seymour on Mar 14 2012

So here's a warning: Travel this way only if you love the slipperiness of questions more than the harder contours of answers.

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Cleveland.com

Below average
Reviewed by Sarah Willis on Mar 22 2012

...the structure is complex. The reader must page back often to remember someone they met chapters earlier, decades removed. One wonders if the narratives would have worked better -- for the reader -- as short stories, singular events reflecting the whole. The back and forth seems overworked. Inventive, yes, but frustrating.

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The Millions

Below average
Reviewed by Malcolm Forbes on Mar 07 2012

 In Gods Without Men it is the voices that jar, simply because they are too many.

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Time Out New York

Below average
Reviewed by Drew Toal on Mar 14 2012

Despite a few superfluous story lines, Kunzru's book is the finest novel about a cult since Portis's Masters of Atlantis.

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Book Forum

Below average
Reviewed by Christopher Sorrentino

To peel away the leaves of the artichoke that he cultivates around the conceit at the heart of his book is to expose many of the redundancies of the “ambitious novel,” at least as this entity is presently defined, and while the array of working parts is impressive, they’re also slightly shopworn.

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Locus Mag

Below average
Reviewed by Paul Di Filippo on Mar 25 2012

Kunzru is unabashed about using the crappiest sub-Whitley-Strieber locutions of his UFOnauts: “This is the voice of the Ashtar Galactic Command. We speak in the names of all sentient beings in the thirty-three sectors of the Universe, in the names of the ascended Masters and the Conclave of Interdimensional Unity.

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NY Observer

Below average
Reviewed by James Miller on Mar 06 2012

Despite its ambitious set-up, the novel takes a while to find its feet.

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Daily California

Excellent
Reviewed by A.J. Kiyoizumi on Mar 03 2012

What prevents this book from being the author’s inaccessible string of dreams are the prose and careful character development.  

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Asia Literary Review

Below average
Reviewed by Fionnuala McHugh

Occasionally, you sense that Kunzru is bored with some of his players. 

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Pittsburgh Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Mike Fischer on Mar 25 2012

It's a great image, in a book filled with terrific writing.

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Mike Doherty on Mar 09 2012

As with Jennifer Egan’s similarly time-shifting A Visit from the Goon Squad, Gods Without Men feels like less of a postmodern attack on the traditional literary novel than a representation of how we now perceive the world.

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DBC Reads

Good
Reviewed by Kevin Morris on Mar 12 2012

Most importantly, however, Kunzru’s command and control of the story is remarkable (as evidenced by the thud-epiphany Jaz experiences on the beach).

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Reading Running Red Sox

Below average
Reviewed by Joel on Mar 15 2012

But as the book progressed, I unfortunately concluded that Kunzru was playing the same trick as the X-Files television series -- simply laying down an ever expanding series of connections so that it feels like there is some central truth at the core (if only the audience is intelligent enough to understand) when in fact there is none.

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Reader Rating for Gods Without Men
64%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 120 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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