I am splitting up the yearly review into two parts, first nationally published fiction by Mormon authors, then in February I will cover fiction published in the Mormon and independent markets.
I start with the surprising flow of Mormon literary fiction that appeared in the second half of the year. Then I will look at best-sellers and particularly well reviewed juvenile and speculative fiction books. And continue from there.
For many years Mormon literature fans have been waiting for (quoting Theric) “A novel (1) about active Mormons (2) written by an active Mormon (3) is placed before a national audience where it makes a notably broad impact on discourse.” There have been several novels in recent years that met two of those criteria, but not one that met all three. In December we finally got one, Mette Ivie Harrison’s The Bishop’s Wife. Harrison has produced a murder mystery that explores Mormon beliefs, practices, and culture at the center of the discussion. She goes beyond stereotypes, creating complex, fleshed-out characters, whose relationships with each other are all informed to one degree or another by their membership in the Church. Although some have criticized what they see as an info dump explaining Mormon practices through internal dialogue early in the book, apparently requested by the publisher, overall it is an exciting development to see a real insider provide her take on Mormon culture to the broader world. Also, her New York City publisher decided to make promoting the book a priority, ensuring that unlike other such books, The Bishop’s Wife will reach a wider audience. Hopefully some of those readers will then seek out more literature about Mormons. Harrison has had several YA fantasy novels published in the past, this is her first adult mystery novel. It will be the first in a series. Don’t miss Theric’s reviews and discussion of the novel at A Motley Vision.