Combined Reviews: Wonders of a Godless World by Andrew McGahan

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wonders_godless_world.jpg    Wonders of a Godless World
Andrew McGahan
Allen & Unwin

From the publisher's page

The witch, the virgin, the archangel, the duke and an orphan meet in the extraordinary new novel from the award-winning Andrew McGahan -- an electrifying, tumultuous story of inner demons, desire and devastation, a powerful and apocalyptic tale that sweeps the reader from the beginning of time to the end of the earth.


On an unnamed island, in a Gothic hospital sitting in the shadow of a volcano, a wordless orphan girl works on the wards housing the insane and the incapable. When a silent, unmoving and unnerving new patient -- a foreigner -- arrives at the hospital, strange phenomena occur, bizarre murders take place, and the lives of the patients and the island's inhabitants are thrown into turmoil. What happens between them is an extraordinary exploration of consciousness, reality and madness.

Wonders of a Godless World, the new novel from Miles Franklin-winner Andrew McGahan, is a huge and dramatic beast of a book. It is a thought-provoking investigation into character and consciousness, a powerful cautionary tale, and a head-stretching fable about the earth, nature and the power of the mind. It is utterly unlike anything you've read before - it will take you by the shoulders and hold you in its grip to its nerve-tingling finale.


Kerryn Goldsworthy in "Australian Book Review": "...this book is not going to be to everyone's taste, but readerly preserverance is rewarded...It is not a difficult read in the way that Brian Castro's or David Foster's dizzying pyrotechnics can be difficult, but it is still a bit of a struggle to sort thorugh the levels of reality and realism, such as they are, and the reader is haunted by a sense that she has missed some vital clue...Whatever else it is, this novel is an impressively sustained feat of imagination."

Geordie Williamson in "The Australian": "Whether McGahan is writing about racial hatred or deviant sexuality, his primary rhetorical gambit is bluntness. His direct and resolutely pedestrian language can lend a discomforting intensity to taboo subjects, a feeling akin to having your gaze held firmly for a few seconds too long. But prose can suffer as much from excessive plainness as too much filigree...while Wonders of a Godless World is too sophisticated to be the kind of dull allegory in which symbols have obvious, time-worn meanings, its characters lack the necessary freedom to act and choose outside the strict dictates of the form."

Short Notices

Sanchia Hovey on the "" website: "This book is totally unexpected and you won't be able to put it down. It's a thriller, an environmental plea, a book about madness, mind control, nature, space travel and just what it means to live forever."

Tania McCartney on "Australian Women Online" website: "From the opening pages of Andrew McGahan's latest fictional offering, we are bombarded with the dichotomy -- and parallels -- between ugly and beauty, whether it be aesthetic, figurative, primal, tangible, archetypal, human or metaphysical -- it's there, peeping from every placid or tumultous corner...Happily, there are also plenty of moments where the reader is drawn anxiously to the page - or more accurately - unwilling to even close the page and so miss the possibilities poised to erupt. Like the thundering volcano that features heavily in the lives of its characters, Wonders of a Godless World is sure to awaken the senses of anyone who cares to dip into its explosive pages - and however much you enjoy the novel, it will certainly give you something to rumble about for a long time to come."


Jo Case on the "Readings" website.

Fran Metcalf in "The Courier-Mail".

Jane Sullivan in "The Age".

Peter Mares on ABC Radio National's "The Book Show".


YouTube book trailer:

1 Comment

I've blogged about this amazing book, too! If you have time, you should definitely check it out.

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on December 4, 2009 4:49 PM.

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