HomeGroupsTalkMoreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru
Loading...

Gods Without Men (original 2011; edition 2012)

by Hari Kunzru (Autor)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5672542,487 (3.66)34
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.… (more)
Member:maxhumphries
Title:Gods Without Men
Authors:Hari Kunzru (Autor)
Info:Penguin (2012), 400 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:None

Work Information

Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru (2011)

Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 34 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
Here's what I wrote in 2013 about this read: "Really very memorable. What has happened out there is the world (example for this book, Mojave Desert) that we can't explain with reason and science, and for which we must have faith? Manhattan Jewish-Sikh couple lose their child, and mostly their relationship, and yet the child re-appears. And mathematical models attempt to play the market for absurd gains and yet the whole thing (the economy) collapses. Two stories of many threads throughout this tale." Quotations in the comments section are my exact kindle highlights. ( )
  MGADMJK | May 20, 2024 |
There's something about big ol' rocks and pagan/mystical beliefs. Stonehenge. Uluru. And in anchoring Kunzru's novel, the trinitarian Pinnacle Rocks arising out of the Californian desert. The native population believed it was where the land of the living and the land of the dead met and were woven together. It was where an exploring Spanish friar was tempted by the devil. It was the base of a 1950s UFO cult and 1970s countercultural commune. It is where a "glowing boy" pops up through the decades.

Kunzru weaves the novel together using strands of story taken from different decades and centuries. We jump from 2008 to 1920 to 1971 to 1775. The largest piece of the action occurs in 2008. Jaz and Lisa Matharu are passing through on a vacation with their 4 year old autistic son Raj. On a trip to Pinnacle Rocks, Raj inexplicably disappears. A media circus descends on the parents. Months later Raj reappears in the desert, equally inexplicably, in the middle of a nearby secure Marine base. Or does he? When first seen he is described as the "glowing boy" who has appeared throughout decades. And Jaz is certain that the boy who has come back is not Raj, but "something wearing his skin".

This appears to allude to the changeling myth, as seen in novels like Keith Donohue's The Stolen Child. Lisa, for her part, thinks Jaz has gone insane. Unlike in Donohue's novel, Kunzru does not say a substitution has been made for certain. It is suggested, and would be in keeping with the coyote theme that is part of the local native mythology and which is woven through the novel (Coyote, that trickster figure that straddles the worlds of the living and the dead), but no more.

This brings up similarities to the film Picnic at Hanging Rock, where a group of Australian schoolgirls go out to a large rock formation on the outskirts of modern civilization. In the midst of strong tones of paganism and mysticism in connection to the rocks, several of the girls climb up them and are never seen again. The mystery of what happened to them is never solved. So here, the mystery of what happened to Raj Matharu is not resolved.

Most everyone in this novel could be termed an outsider or on the fringe. Jaz is from a rural Punjabi family, trying to fit in. Lisa is Jewish. Their son is autistic. Other contemporary characters include a disillusioned British rock star escaping from LA and a teenaged Iraqi girl sent to live with relatives in California after her intellectual father is murdered in the civil war there. A little further back are the Ashtar Galactic Command, talking about communicating with extraterrestrial intelligences and later moving into countercultural drug running. Further back is the Spanish priest, exploring the New World. And of course The People themselves, turned into outsiders in what used to be their land.

So we have a novel of people who largely don't fit in with their surroundings, connected to each other through this physical place that seems to exist outside the boundaries of its own surroundings. If it ends in a confused tangle of uncertain realities, well, that shouldn't be entirely unexpected.

Near the end of the novel, writing as Lisa's character, Kunzru indeed tells us to abandon our need for certain answers:
The problem with modern people - one of the problems - was that they'd forgotten how to be humble... They looked so ugly to her, all the morning people, because when Raj went missing she'd seen the flip side of the self-assurance: the outrage when something unknowable reared up before them, not just unknown for now, because they or their designated expert had yet to enquire into the matter, had yet to Google the search term or send the e-mail or write the check for the correct amount to the relevant company or government department, but unknowable in principle, inaccessible to human comprehension. Their fear made them dangerous - murderous even - for in their blind panic they'd turn on whoever they could find as a scapegoat, would tear them into pieces to preserve this cherished fiction, the fiction of the essential comprehensibility of the world.

You don't know what happened here, Kunzru tells us. And that's as it is supposed to be. ( )
  lelandleslie | Feb 24, 2024 |
Engrossing novel, probably really 5 stars but I will have to think about it. The book is written across time with different characters (reminiscent of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and others, I think there is a name for this kind of fiction, but I can't think of it) all of whom have in common a single location in the desert (hence the book title, a fragment from Balzac's quote "In the desert, you see, there is everything and nothing....It is God without men.") The characters are all looking for something, the mystery of the world, something bigger than our lives, etc. The combination of the book being written as parts of a puzzle, when the characters are trying to assemble a puzzle, the characters being a large variety of searchers or pilgrims including several damaged war veterans, the use of American Indian mythology, and the maintenance of a persistent system of imagery throughout make this high quality heady stuff. ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
Fantastic book. I will definitely re-read to try to tie some things together better. If you are a fan of either the surreal or post modern genres, you should read this book. ( )
  Drunken-Otter | Aug 20, 2021 |
SF Chronicle Best of 2012
  wordloversf | Aug 14, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hari Kunzruprimary authorall editionscalculated
Degas, RupertNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harper, KateNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
King, LoreleiNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shale, KerryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
White, TrevorNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wincott, AndrewNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Epigraph
Dans le désert, voyez-vous, il y a tout, et il n'y a rien...

c'est Dieu sans les hommes.

Balzac, "Une passion dans le désert" (1830)
De Indio y Negra, nace Lobo, de Indio y Mestiza, nace Coyote...

Andrés de Islas, Las Castas (1774)
My God! It's full of stars!

Arthur C. Clarke, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Dedication
For Katie
First words
In the time when the animals were men, Coyote was living in a certain place.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

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.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary

Current Discussions

None

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.66)
0.5
1 2
1.5 1
2 13
2.5 2
3 29
3.5 12
4 51
4.5 11
5 19

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 206,002,725 books! | Top bar: Always visible