God Is Dead (Hardcover)
Viking Adult, 9780670038671, 192pp.
Publication Date: July 5, 2007
An electrifying debut from a provocative new voice in fiction that will remind readers of the best of Vonnegut
Ron Currie’s gutsy, funny book is instantly gripping: If God takes human form and dies, what would become of life as we know it? Effortlessly combining outlandish humor with big questions about mortality, ethics, and human weakness, Ron Currie, Jr., holds a funhouse mirror to our present-day world. God has inhabited the mortal body of a young Dinka woman in the Sudan. When she is killed in the Darfur desert, he dies along with her, and word of his death soon begins to spread. Faced with the hard proof that there is no supreme being in charge, the world is irrevocably transformed, yet remains oddly recognizable.
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
- What is most surprising about Currie's depiction of God?
- God Is Dead takes the form of separate but interconnected stories. What effect does Ron Currie create by structuring the novel in this way? How are the stories connected?
- What ironies are involved in God taking the form of a Dinka woman, being killed by the Janjaweed, and then eaten by wild dogs? Why is God powerless, in Currie's novel, to stop the slaughter in Darfur or to save his own life? What are the larger implications of His powerlessness?
- Dostoevsky said that "If God is dead, everything is permissible." How does the death of God affect people in the novel? How do they react to His death? How do their lives change because of it?
- Professor Oswalt says that "One of our great dilemmas . . . is how to strike a balance between our principles, as Postmodern Anthropologists, and our security." What are the principles of the Post-modern Anthropologists? Why are those principles incompatible with maintaining their own security? Why are the PoMo Anthropologists at war with the Evolutionary Psychologists? What is Currie satirizing here?
- In what ways does God Is Dead illuminate our current social, political, and religious milieu? In what ways can it be read as a kind of satirical fable or commentary on our time?
- Rick says that "by the time they told us God was dead and all hell broke loose, it seemed like kind of a blessing to me. . . . I understood those guys who climb clock towers or walk into a McDonald's with guns blazing. I felt more like them than the people who stand around after the rampages crying and asking why, why, why. Because I understood there is no why. There's the impulse, and the act. But nothing else" [p. 49]. Why does Rick see God's death as "a blessing"? Is he right in implying that without God there are only meaningless impulses and meaningless acts?
- What are some of this novel's more surprising features? In what ways—formally and thematically—does it differ from most contemporary fiction? What is the value of Currie's breaking of convention?
- How do the Biblical passages Currie places at the beginning of each chapter illuminate what follows? What is the effect of quoting the Bible in a novel about the death of God?
- At the end of the novel, Arnold and Ty drive "through the bombs and the fire and the people in the streets who didn't seem to notice that their world was being destroyed." What is the significance of people not noticing that their world is being destroyed, having been drugged into forgetting there is a war going on? Why would Currie end the novel this way?