Wednesday 18 October 2006

Ten must-read noughties novels for Christians

by Kim Fabricius

Following on from Fifteen Essential Novels for Theologians, here are “Ten Must-Read Noughties Novels for Christians” (in chronological order).

There were three criteria for selection. First, that the novels have been published since the turn of the millennium. Second, that they carry a significant amount of theological freight even if they do not contain explicitly “religious” characters and motifs (though at least six of them do). And, finally, that I have actually read them – which considerably narrows the field, but then, I confess, the purpose of the list is not only for me to point you to some outstanding recent fiction but also for you, in your responses, to point me to some too. Old oriental saying: One hand washes another.

Ten Must-Read Noughties Novels for Christians

1. Kazuo Ishiguro, When We Were Orphans (2000)
2. Salley Vickers, Miss Garnet’s Angel (2000)
3. Ian McKewan, Atonement (2001)
4. Yann Martel, Life of Pi (2002)
5. Douglas Coupland, Hey Nostradamus! (2003)
6. Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner (2003)
7. Valerie Martin, Property (2003)
8. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus (2004)
9. Orhan Pamuk, Snow (2004)
10. Marilynne Robinson, Gilead (2004)


Joanna said...

It's not exactly a novel, rather a series of short stories that are intertwined, but Tim Winton's The Turning is my vote for number one fictional read of the noughties (for theologians)...

byron smith said...

Oh, I was too slow - I second Winton's collection. He is an excellent author.

Anonymous said...

'Peace Like a River' by Leif Enger.

Anonymous said...

and 'The Clay Kiln' by Jack Clemo.

Ben Myers said...

Thanks for another great list, Kim. I'll add my voice to the chorus of Tim Winton enthusiasm, and I'd especially recommend his triumphant novel Dirt Music (2001).

And here are three of my favourite novels from the past two years:

* Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)
* Markus Zusak, The Book Thief (2005)
* Gabriel García Márquez, Memories of My Melancholy Whores (2005)

Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

Wow. I felt good that I had read 10 of the earlier 15 (although disagreeing on some of the "essentials"), but I haven't read a single one of these. How embarrassing.

Anonymous said...

glad you included the Purple Hibiscus, my wife is currently reading Chimamanda's new novel Half of a Yellow Sun and claims it is even better! Filled with the same religious, political, and cultural dialogue in Africa, but set in the time of the Biafran war.
I also liked, Atonement, the Kite Runner, and Gilead, but never could quite understand why I didn't like Snow. I'll be sure to get the others on my list (once the semester ends)

Anonymous said...

got cut off.

Suggestions, especially related to Christianity is
Acts of Faith by Philip Caputo
set in Sudan and follows the lives of Aid Workers, missionaries, Southern rebel, and northern fighters

and Ngugi's new novel
Wizard of the Crow

::aaron g:: said...

Zadie Smith - On Beauty

Anonymous said...

William Golding - Free Fall which touches on the subject of free will, etc. Very good, for Christian and Theologian alike (whether you believe free-will to be gospel of farce). The first paragraph is outstanding.

Strongly recommended.

Here's the first paragraph, and an excerpt from the second. All copyright and hail to Golding, of course, so I hope I'm not committing a crime by posting it here:

I have walked by stalls in the market-place where books, dog-eared and faded from their purple, have burst with a white hosanna. I have seen people crowned with a double crown, holding in either hand the crook and the flail, the
power and the glory. I have understood how the scar becomes
a star, I have felt the flake of fire fall, miraculous and pentecostal. My yesterdays walk with me. They keep step, they are grey faces the peer over my shoulder. I live on Paradise Hill, ten minutes from the station, thirty seconds from the shops and the local. Yet I am a burning amateur, torn by the irrational and incoherent, violently searching
and self-condemned.

When did I lose my freedom? For once, I was free. I had
power to choose. The mechanics of cause and effect is
statistical probability yet surely sometimes we operate
below or beyond that threshold. Free-will cannot be debated
but only experienced, like a colour or the taste of potatoes.

Anonymous said...

How about this one:

Mark Haddon, "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" (2004)

David Williamson said...

The Heather Blazing, Colm Toibin

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone.

Thanks for the tips. I've already ordered the The Turning, and made note of all the other novels I don't have. On Beauty is in my fiction pile (which looks soon to topple!), while I've read The Curious Incident, which is indeed excellent.


byron smith said...

Thanks for the list, Kim - always dangerous to go out on a limb like that!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Byron, for lifting my spirits this morning (I'm in mourning: my Mets lost). As you know from most of my posts, I'm an arboreal creature! In any case, there is no such thing as theological terra firma: its very basis literally "hangs in the air".

Anonymous said...

The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
Hopeful Monsters, by Nicholas Mosley

Steve Hayes said...

I haven't read any of those, and when I looked through the list of books I have read, bublished since 2001, i wasn't sure how many were original publications and how many were reprints.

The only ones I would recommend for Christians are the novels of Phil Rickman.

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