on 29 November 2000
In his first novel to deal with the modern era, EL Doctorow combines the full power of his intellect and storytelling ability to create a hybrid, polyphonous novel that goes beyond the hype of the millenium in search of the one true God. Starting from the mysterious robbery of a crucifix from a rundown church in Soho and it's even more mysterious reappearance atop a reform synagaogue, Doctorow takes us on a mesmerising journey of faith through voices as varied as Albert Einstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein, a disaffected priest and a worldweary novelist, bringing in a wide range of themes from the holocaust to the nature of the universe, and all set in the modern city of God, New York. Shot through with sardonic humour, and at times teetering on the brink of despair, it nevertheless instils a hope for the future, based less on divinity than on a belief in the ability of man to find the divine, even among the wreckage of modern urban lives and their accompanying detritus. A profound book that needs to be read by anyone who would attempt to understand the era.