What in God's Name by Simon Rich

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What in God's Name by Simon Rich

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Robin Leggett
Reviewed by Robin Leggett
Summary: Sharp and funny, light read that takes Heaven Inc as a dysfunctional corporation. Fans of Douglas Adams style humour will relish this.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Serpent's Tail
ISBN: 9781846688485

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In What in God's Name, Simon Rich imagines Heaven Inc as a corporate entity, with all the dysfunctional trappings of many a large company. At the head of the operation, as you might expect, is God, although he seems to have lost his interest in planet Earth and certainly in the operation of heaven. In fact, he'd rather be watching the religious channels on satellite television or opening a restaurant. Although he would like to see rock group Lynyrd Skynyrd re-form before he's done with the planet. In fact the only two who really care about what goes on down here are a workaholic angel named Craig who works in the Miracles Department and the recently promoted Eliza who has been labouring away, somewhat fruitlessly it seems, in the Prayers Department. When Eliza finds that her work on preparing prayers for God has been for nothing, her anger threatens the end of the world, unless Craig and Eliza can help a couple of hopeless humans find love with each other.

Rich has worked as a writer for both movies and for the topical US television show Saturday Night Live amongst other things and this shows through in his writing. It's dialogue driven, often very sharp and funny, with a number of cultural references that mean that this is a book best read sooner rather than later for best effect. If Douglas Adams had ever turned his hand to a topical 'rom-com' it might have looked something like this. As a result it's often very funny and a terrific light read.

Heaven Inc is presented as some kind of luxurious campus operation, with most of the angels and archangels preferring to bunk off work to enjoy the trappings of the facilities rather than doing the work they are supposed to be doing. Rich notes that the only corporation with similar facilities is Google. It's that sort of humour throughout. The comedy is largely gentle but gloriously non-PC. Those who take their religious views seriously would be best advised to steer well clear to avoid offence.

It's also one of those rare books where the Acknowledgments chapter is also entertaining. In particular though the various departments of Heaven Inc are wonderful: there's a sunsets department, a group of angels whose job is geyser regulation and another with the thankless task of volcano suppression.

At least some of the references, like the plane that crash landed on the Hudson a few months ago, will probably lose some impact with time - so read it now while these are fresh in your memory. It's a perfect holiday read.

At this point we'd normally thank publishers Serpent's Tail for sending us this book, but we'd like to think that maybe the angel Craig had a hand in events - so instead we'd like to offer up a silent thank you to him for his hard work. Thanks Craig.

For more very funny, non-PC fiction, Hope: a Tragedy by Shalom Auslander is very highly recommended and original.

Buy What in God's Name by Simon Rich at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy What in God's Name by Simon Rich at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy What in God's Name by Simon Rich at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy What in God's Name by Simon Rich at Amazon.com.


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