Modern Gods by Nick Laird
A Novel

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Secrets are revealed and misunderstandings clarified with the too-neat rush of a last scene in a Shakespearean comedy. But it is a problem comedy, to be sure, for no amount of family catharsis can subdue the dark roil of violence and trauma that Laird’s tale has summoned...
-NY Times

Synopsis

A powerful novel about two sisters who must reclaim themselves after their lives are dramatically upended, from an award-winning author with “a wonderfully original and limber voice” (The New York Times)
 
“[Nick Laird’s] kinetic prose, full of insight about politics, history and religion, dazzles eye and ear." –The New York Times Book Review

“Nick Laird takes two experiences poles apart and unites them in gorgeous language…[with] fierce tenderness. ” Dave Eggers, author of Heroes of the Frontier

Alison Donnelly has suffered for love. Still stuck in the small Northern Irish town where she was born, working for her father’s real estate agency, she hopes a second marriage will help her get her life back together. Her sister Liz, a fiercely independent professor who lives in New York City, is about to return to Ulster for Alison’s wedding, before heading to an island off the coast of Papua New Guinea to make a TV show about the world’s newest religion.

Both sisters hope to write their own futures, but the past has other ideas. Alison wakes up the day after her wedding to find that her new husband has a past neither of them can escape. While Liz, in a rainforest on the other side of the planet, finds herself increasingly entangled in the eerie, charged world of Belef, the charismatic middle-aged woman she has come to film, the leader of a cargo cult.

As Modern Gods ingeniously interweaves the stories of Liz and Alison, it becomes clear that both sisters must learn how to negotiate with the past, with the sins of fanaticism, and decide exactly what the living owe to the dead.  Laird’s brave, innovative novel charts the intimacies and disappointments of a family trying to hold itself together, and the repercussions of history and belief.
 

About Nick Laird

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Published June 27, 2017 by Viking. 316 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Religion & Spirituality. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Modern Gods
All: 3 | Positive: 0 | Negative: 3

Kirkus

Below average
on Apr 04 2017

But though faith and family remain topic A throughout, the dramas and circumstances on Ireland and PNG are so different that the connection feels forced. Two intriguing storylines that, like feuding family members, have a hard time talking to one another.

Read Full Review of Modern Gods: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

NPR

Below average
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Jul 03 2017

For a novel that ultimately aims to expose the dangers of political and religious orthodoxies, Modern Gods winds up getting awfully preachy.

Read Full Review of Modern Gods: A Novel | See more reviews from NPR

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Jennifer Egan on Jun 26 2017

Secrets are revealed and misunderstandings clarified with the too-neat rush of a last scene in a Shakespearean comedy. But it is a problem comedy, to be sure, for no amount of family catharsis can subdue the dark roil of violence and trauma that Laird’s tale has summoned...

Read Full Review of Modern Gods: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

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