Image of the book cover of Laird's novel, Modern Gods (Paperback)

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

Alison Donnelly is back where she started: a single mother of two, she works for her dad’s estate agency in a small town in Ulster, but hopes her new fiancé will be a fresh start. After the wedding, her sister Liz, an anthropologist based in New York, heads to Papua New Guinea to make a TV show about Belef, a charismatic female leader who has started the world’s newest religion, the Story.

Equal parts thriller and a novel of ideas, Modern Gods ingeniously braids the stories of Liz and Alison as they learn how to negotiate with the past and with the sins of fanaticism, and decide just what the living owe the dead.

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Praise for Modern Gods

Laird dazzles ear and eye with his kinetic prose … With a mere flick of description, [he] summons vast stretches of politics and history … The dynamism Laird has conjured in New Ulster … keeps us reading, and the tragic climax resonates powerfully with the Northern Ireland sections of the novel.” –Jennifer Egan, The New York Times Book Review

“Laird sets out to mix the intimate family drama with the epic novel of ideas … Full of bull’s-eye sentences and sharply drawn characters … Laird handles it all with tremendous dexterity, energy, and compassion.”The Sunday Times (London)

“An exceptional work of literature. It also fulfills its duty as a corrective to our collective idiocy by reminding us what we’ve forgotten: at bedrock, it says, we’re all just confused, lonely, yearning, terrified of death, and desperate for love.”—The Irish Times

“Nick Laird’s prose disseminates unease– a sure sign of originality. The aura of danger derives not so much from his theme (how religious faith is inseparable from violence) as from his sensibility: the reader feels the ever-present likelihood–the risk–of confrontation with unpalatable truths. Laird is a poet-novelist; his fictional world may be harsh and raw, but is balanced by the imaginative habits of a poet, which always tend toward forgiveness and, indeed, toward celebration.”—Martin Amis

“A richly textured geography of the human need to believe in something, and of the stories, religious and secular, that we live by … Has a grave, melancholy grace.”The Guardian (London)

“[A] roving, ambitious novel … The taut prose propels the story and describes the process by which people ‘make a future by entering into ethical relations with the past.’”The New Yorker

“In Modern Gods, Nick Laird takes two experiences poles apart and unites them in gorgeous language, with the same fierce tenderness as he employs in his poetry. It’s about families, tribes, peoples– and if you’re a member of any of those you’ll find a home both strange and familiar in this story.”—Dave Eggers

“Laird’s overarching concern, for individuals trapped by politics and religion, carries Modern Gods along on a tide of vigorous compassion.”The Times (London)

“[Nick Laird] weaves a wide-ranging, globe-trotting novel in which two sisters content with issues of identity, politics, and belief.”The Philadelphia Inquirer

Modern Gods has realer-than-real characters, unexpected turns of plot into unknown corners of the world, and language that finds its way through the darkest moments and states of mind to shine its clear bright light, revelatory and unforgiving. And it encompasses deep—the deepest, thorniest—questions of faith and redemption, fate and forgiveness.”—Michael Chabon

“An agile domestic drama, split between Ireland and Papua New Guinea … [Laird] effortlessly switches location and point of view without sacrificing the empathy we feel for each character.”The Christian Science Monitor

“With Modern Gods, Laird marks himself out as a first-rate novelist, applying his virtuoso linguistic skills and acute ear for dialogue to a subject—religion—that is rarely well-handled in fiction … Laird’s book does what great novels do, using its humor to illuminate the deepest reaches of the human experience.”Financial Times

“Nick Laird knows a great deal about violence, physical, emotional, and spiritual, and how it eats into the lives of both survivors and perpetrators and continues to corrode, like a slow-acting acid. Modern Gods is a big, tightly packed book that lives up amply to its high ambitions.”—John Banville

“Society’s darkest impulses are on graphic display in Laird’s novel … [He] is alive to the way that moral certitudes tend toward violence.”The Wall Street Journal

“[Laird's novels] are—in different contexts, and different ways—about the problem of being born into an identity … He takes as his material everyday things, but for the purpose of showing how ordinary life is in fact complicated and extraordinary.”The New Republic

Modern Gods is at once remorselessly clear-eyed about human frailty in the aggregate, and full of loving kindness for human beings as individuals. The taut prose reveals a poet’s hand, and the dialogue a playwright’s ear; Laird can nail an entire character in one acutely perceptive description, and richly suggestive transitions crystallize the truths of well-wrought scenes. Ferociously intelligent, radically contemporary, deeply affecting, stunning”—Matthew Thomas

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