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Editorial Reviews

Narrator Oliver Wyman skillfully inhabits the robust, zany cast of characters that populate this novel, from a young, female, hippie anthropology grad student to the Rebbe, or leader, of a sect of fictional ultra-orthodox Jews known as the Valdeners.
His most nuanced performance comes with his sensitive portrayal of the Rebbe's son, Azarya. As the only son, he is in line to accept the mantle of Valdener leadership from his father. But Azarya's life becomes complicated when Roz Margolis — the grad student — after a chance meeting with Azarya as a 6-year-old, believes he possesses a genius that is too profound to remain trapped within the confines of his upstate New York community. Roz only meets Azarya because her boyfriend is also a grad student whose mentor, Jonas Elijah Klapper, is interested in the Valdeners.
Klapper’s existence gives Wyman a chance to have as much fun as any voice actor could hope to have portraying a character. Born Jonas Klepfish, Jonas Elijah Klapper (the book’s narrator always refers to him by his full name) grew up on the Lower East Side of New York City, managed to graduate from Columbia University and become a professor there, and then jumped ship for Frankfurter University (a thinly disguised Brandeis) in Weedham, Mass., by the time the story begins. Along the way, Klapper has affected an English accent and the use of 75-cent words whenever a 5-cent word would do. And Klapper is not the only oddball. The book is populated with them — a bubbe with borderline personality disorder and a "lupine" French poet among them — making the novel a hugely entertaining listening experience.
But the story, which spans about 20 years, doesn’t neglect to develop main characters whose faults, foibles, and humanity deeply endear them to the listener. As the title suggests, the characters spend a great deal of time meditating on whether or how God manifests himself among them, as they come to realize that if they've only got each other, they're not in such bad shape. —Maggie Frank
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Publisher's Summary

After Cass Seltzers book becomes a surprise best seller, he's dubbed the atheist with a soul and becomes a celebrity. He wins over the stunning Lucinda Mandelbaum, the goddess of game theory, and loses himself in a spiritually expansive infatuation.Then a former girlfriend appears: an anthropologist who invites him to join in her quest for immortality through biochemistry. And he is haunted by reminders of the two people who ignited his passion to understand religion: his mentor and professor - a renowned literary scholar with a suspicious obsession with messianism - and an angelic six-year-old mathematical genius who is heir to the leadership of a Hasidic sect. Each encounter reinforces Cass's theory that the religious impulse spills over into life at large.
36 Arguments for the Existence of God plunges into the great debate of our day: the clash between faith and reason. World events are being shaped by fervent believers at home and abroad, while a new atheism is asserting itself in the public sphere. On purely intellectual grounds the skeptics would seem to have everything on their side. Yet people refuse to accept their seemingly irrefutable arguments and continue to embrace faith in God as their source of meaning, purpose, and comfort.
Through the enchantment of fiction, award-winning novelist and MacArthur Fellow Rebecca Newberger Goldstein shows that the tension between religion and doubt cannot be understood through rational argument alone. It also must be explored from the point of view of individual people caught in the raptures and torments of religious experience in all their variety.
Using her gifts in fiction and philosophy, Goldstein has produced a true crossover novel, complete with a nail-biting debate ("Resolved: God Exists") and a stand-alone appendix with the 36 arguments (and responses) that propelled Seltzer to stardom.
©2010 Rebecca Goldstein (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"Oliver Wyman’s narration contains just the right bit of mischief to deliver the polysyllabic academician’s jargon in this ambitious, humorous new novel…Wyman is wonderful as puffed-up conversations about the psychology of religion, Matthew Arnold’s poetry, and the Kabbalah rain down." ( AudioFile)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By David on 07-03-10

Subtly Codifying Your Atheist Suspicions

Oliver Wyman reads perfectly, doing justice to the varied characters and the sometimes lofty or esoteric tone of the book. Hearing the Jewish phrasing (and other less vernacular words) aloud was a great treat and wonderful learning experience that I could not create when reading the book.

The book is a fascinating look at some of the "Varieties of Religious Illusion" through an engaging character story. Full of allegory that I'm sure I'm not fully grasping, but I very much enjoyed the presentation of what I did grasp. The plot and setting will be familiar to those in grad school, but only a few things in the book require much extrinsic knowledge for comprehension, thanks to the aside thinking of the main character(s).

Rather thorough in its assessment of faith, the ways in which we believe, and human nature. Not always an easy listen, but well worth the time and thought.

This narration from Oliver (and later the author) makes a stellar companion to the physical book.

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15 of 19 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Monty Bludworth on 07-05-10

A bit over my head..........

Although I am thoroughly enjoying "36 Arguments for the Existence of God" the arguments are way over my head. Oh, I get a point here or there but for the most part my linear mind can't process the authors writing.

However, it is very well written and quite engaging.

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8 of 11 people found this review helpful

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