Some of the leading names in literature are turning their attention to the Bible in a new anthology.
In The Good Book: Writers Reflect on Favorite Bible Passages (Simon & Schuster, Nov.), secular writers join authors with various religious backgrounds to detail ways in which the Bible informs the way they live as well as their view of the world, often in deeply personal entries. The collection, which received a starred review from PW, is edited by literary agent-turned-anthologist Andrew Blauner.
“This new book is the broadest one I’ve done,” said Blauner, who is also the editor behind Coach: 24 Writers Reflect on People Who Made a Difference (Grand Central, 2005) and Brothers: 26 Stories of Love and Rivalry (Jossey-Bass, 2010), among others. “The paradox I find interesting and wanted to manifest is that this isn’t a book filled with writers who are considered religious writers, or even known in the spiritual book world.”
Instead of selecting well-known writers on faith, Blauner sought voices that would add fresh insight to an age-old conversation. “I wanted to include a lot of writers I admired who might have something to say about a passage from the Bible,” said the literary agent.
A total of 32 authors contributed to The Good Book, including Ian Caldwell, Al Sharpton, Clyde Edgerton, Pico Iyer, Lois Lowry, Kathleen Norris, and Tobias Wolff. Adam Gopnik of The New Yorker penned the introduction. “I know many of the authors personally to varying degrees and many contributed to my other anthologies, so it was a nice synergy,” said Blauner.
He was looking for diversity in his array of contributors, including an essay from a couple who come from different faiths: Cokie and Steve Roberts (Catholic and Jewish, respectively), to writers with even more varied religious backgrounds—though he didn’t keep score as far as how many Christian and Jews, or Catholics and Protestants, are included. Some authors said no when asked, some asked to be part of the book.
“It’s not a bad thing if you don’t know every writer, or agree with everyone,” said Blauner. “It’s about shining a new light on an old topic.”