Posted by: Lisa Hill | November 23, 2021

I Am God, a Novel, by Giacomo Sartori, translated by Frederika Randall

I knew nothing about this book when I bought it.  I was buying a small(ish) pile of books at The Grumpy Swimmer in Elwood when the bookseller noticed they were all translations and pulled out this brand new arrival and said it was very funny.

I took one look at the cover and….

(You know the rest).

This is the blurb:

Diabolically funny and subversively philosophical, Italian novelist Giacomo Sartori’s I am God is the diary of the Almighty’s existential crisis that ensues when he falls in love with a human.

I am God. Have been forever, will be forever. Forever, mind you, with the razor-sharp glint of a diamond, and without any counterpart in the languages of men. So begins God’s diary of the existential crisis that ensues when, inexplicably, he falls in love with a human. And not just any human, but a geneticist and fanatical atheist who’s certain she can improve upon the magnificent creation she doesn’t even give him the credit for. It’s frustrating, for a god.

God has infinitely bigger things to occupy his celestial attentions. Yet he can’t tear his eyes (so to speak) from the geneticist who’s unsettlingly avid when it comes to science, sex, and Sicilian cannoli. Whatever happens, he must safeguard his transcendental dignity. So he watches—disinterestedly, of course—as the handsome climatologist who has his sights set on her keeps having strange accidents. And as the lanky geneticist becomes hell-bent on infiltrating the Vatican’s secret files, for reasons of her own….

A sly critique of the hypocrisy and hubris that underlie faith in religion, science, and macho careerism, I Am God takes us on a hilarious and provocative romp through the Big Questions with the universe’s supreme storyteller.

God, who narrates the story, much like many an insufferable male, is a tad pompous and more than a little self-obsessed, plus very opinionated — but then, why wouldn’t he be? He is after all #InsertCharacteristicsOfGod, e.g. omnipotent, all-seeing, etc etc.  Unfortunately he is bored with his creation, and disappointed in humans, having a poor opinion of them in general, and feeling peeved about particular things that they have done.  Indeed, when things become too difficult for him on Earth, he takes a break in the other galaxies, rather like a stress day off work.  And there he gloats: Just look at all the gorgeous galaxies I’ve created!  He savours that feeling you get contemplating something you’ve made with your own hands, the satisfaction of a job well done, of time well spent. 

He compares his efforts with creation with that of contemporary artists…He created and created, nonstop, with no cigarette breaks, no union hours, and is proud of every single component:

Sleek panthers, enchanting palms, hieratic giraffes, proud plovers, gorgeous orchids, the softest, greenest moss, shiny ladybugs, adorable daisies.

His work (apart from humans, who would be a mistake, except that God doesn’t make mistakes), belongs in the best art galleries. But…

Contemporary so-called artists display washing machine parts, driftwood, bodies that have been run through, scrap iron, photographs of genital organs and aged corpses, polystyrene chips, medicine bottles, naked women, even just their own excrement, and the public pretends to be mildly interested.  In this age of screens and globalised idiocy, nobody seems to know how to hold a brush. (p.79)

He is irritated, for example, by the effrontery of Big Bang Theory.  He wryly notes the pathetic spectacle of early man’s efforts to barter their absurd sacrifices for help with their problems from every type of spirit apart from that of yours truly… but the scientific theory that he was not involved at all makes him cross.

An eternity went by before they realised that their blessed Earth is a mere speck in the Solar System, in turn a piddly little mite in the Milky Way, one negligible molecule in the vastness of the universe.  Only my great patience kept me from taking serious umbrage.  And to top it off, rather than finally recognising my merits, rendering unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, (that boy of mine, the one reputed to be my boy at any rate, had a knack for catchy sayings), now they’re spreading the rumour that the universe created itself.  That it sprang forth from nothing, like a mushroom: Big Bang,  and there’s your rabbit, folks. (p.13)

He is not, as you will have noticed, overly impressed by ‘that boy’.  He thinks that his offspring has wasted the opportunity for radical change…

… I thought to myself: if I were ever to try incarnation, I certainly wouldn’t imitate my self-proclaimed offspring.  I wouldn’t go round proselyting barefoot, or pronouncing shamanic catchphrases, as often as not false, or perform miracles.  No, the appeal — I started to say the thrill — would lie in a radical transformation.  No more bottomless profundity, no definitive word on things.  I’d immerse myself in the partial and the finite. Do normal things: squeeze onto the bus at rush hour, shop in shopping centres mobbed with people, watch a TV series sprawled on a sofa.  (p.140)

Humans annoy him so much that he muses on the possibility of vengeance with climate change so that the earth will be a toaster in no time or perhaps with the Andromeda asteroid, just to put science in its place, you understand, because he thinks he is a benevolent god despite a lot of evidence to the contrary.

All these musings take place as he tries to deal with the problem of falling in love with a human.  Naturally, one begins to speculate as to how this might be resolved.  The solution, when it comes is *chuckle* a lesson in humility, which even a god needs sometimes!  Daphne is well out of it!

Author: Giacomo Sartori
Title: I Am God (Sono DIo)
Translated from the Italian by Frederika Randall
Publisher: Restless Books, 2019, first publisher 2016
Cover design by Adam B Bohannon, cover illustration by Eugenia Loli
(That glitter is real, BTW.  You can feel it under your fingertips as you read.)
ISBN: 9781632062147, pbk, 206 pages
Source: Personal library, Purchased from The Grumpy Swimmer, Elwood $24.99


Responses

  1. Sounds very witty! :D

    Like

  2. I’m not sure where Sartori got his ideas from, but I’m nothing like that.

    Like


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