Religion in fiction

A single throwaway paragraph in Chris Lehmann’s review of Gilead captures what I’ve wanted to say about the treatment of religion in contemporary U.S. fiction:

The main cast of religious fiction, in popular terms at least, is the crass and baleful biblical realism of the Left Behind series. Beyond that,…. [a]ll too often, believers in American literature are either entirely creatures of invitingly alien spiritual traditions (as in the fiction of Louise Erdrich or Russell Banks), two-dimensional glyphs, onto which writers project their own conception of what constitutes spiritual anguish (as in the secular-tinged catechisms of a Mark Salzman or an Anne Lamott), fodder for satirical sport … or a barely literate lumpen peasantry in clumsily-executed and didactic works of dystopian fiction….


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