American Savior: A Novel of Divine Politics

American Savior: A Novel of Divine Politics

4.8 5
by Roland Merullo

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What if Jesus suddenly appeared and announced that he planned to run for President of the United States? Yes, that Jesus. And what if a well-meaning but utterly inexperienced band of disciples not only helped him mount a seat-of-the-pants campaign but also ran it well, getting millions of people to support him and in the process throwing the other two major party


What if Jesus suddenly appeared and announced that he planned to run for President of the United States? Yes, that Jesus. And what if a well-meaning but utterly inexperienced band of disciples not only helped him mount a seat-of-the-pants campaign but also ran it well, getting millions of people to support him and in the process throwing the other two major party candidates—as well as the world's news media—into a frenzy as they scramble to discredit him?

Roland Merullo's bitingly clever satirical novel about the state of American politics follows one man's campaign to bring back goodness and kindness (real goodness and kindness this time) in a country that has fallen into a divisive state of fear and hatred. Merullo takes us into the heart of "a nation in grave spiritual danger" as the Son of man sets out to make everyone realize that "politics as usual" is no longer an acceptable alternative.

American Savior is a remarkably innovative novel that challenges our perceptions and beliefs while it wags a finger at the folly of our self-righteousness. It is sure to cause controversy among those for whom politics itself has become a kind of religion.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

When Jesus Christ turns up in West Zenith, Mass., Catholics, Jews and atheists unite to help him realize his plan of becoming America's next president in this hilarious novel from Merullo (Breakfast with Buddha). Chief adviser to the "Jesus for America" campaign is Russ Thomas, a cynical TV journalist who sets out to convince the American public that Jesus is the real deal. Jesus' chances of being elected seem slim as he faces skepticism from both ends of the political spectrum over his platform of "kindness and goodness" and the fact that he names his mother as his running mate. But as Jesus hits the campaign trail, Russ and his team begin to have faith in their candidate, themselves and humanity. Most enjoyable are the takedowns of thinly veiled political journalists: there's loud-mouthed, insult-spewing Anne Canter and Bulf Spritzer, "a decent guy [who] can never quite convince the viewer that he isn't ecstatic about being in the limelight." The result is, for the most part, an uproarious satire, hampered only by Merullo's occasional slips into the preachiness about morality that he so harshly mocks. (Aug.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Smart, funny yet dead serious Second Coming novel from Merullo (Breakfast with Buddha, 2007, etc.), who has Jesus offering America spiritual renewal by way of a run for the White House. Russ Thomas is an ambitious TV reporter in a small market, West Zenith, Mass. The 30-year-old narrator has nice hair and a great girlfriend in Zelda, a skilled therapist. His boss Wales, a jaded TV veteran, has Russ investigate a strange event: A boy has fallen off a fire escape, died and been revived by a mysterious stranger. Next, a terminally ill girl in the local hospital is cured by the same stranger's magic touch. The Good Visitor, as Wales dubs him, summons Russ to a cafe rendezvous. He introduces himself as Jesus ("Hay-Zeus, to my Spanish-speaking friends") and explains that he wants Russ and Zelda to quit their jobs and work on his presidential campaign. Somewhat disarmed by this nice but obviously nutty guy's magnetism, cynical Russ has no intention of giving up his paycheck-until down-to-earth Zelda has a vision. That does it, and Russ gives notice, only to discover his boss is already onboard. Russ's Jewish father, Catholic mother and Down syndrome brother also join the inner circle. These ordinary, fallible people will be Jesus's staff. Why pick us, the insecure Russ wonders, but Zelda gets it: "we're all worthy." Merullo grounds his story superbly, understanding that the more we believe in his human characters, the more we'll believe in Jesus, who has his own American background: Caucasian father (deceased), Navajo mother (a quietly reassuring presence) who home-schooled him on the reservation. Is he all-knowing? "I let there be gaps." What is his platform? "I'm running on theBeatitudes." And run he does, indulging in campaign hoopla, but no more miracles, and confronting his fiercest enemies, the Christian Right. Jesus gains in the polls, and Merullo handles the horse race smoothly, but the most riveting element here is the interaction between fearful humanity and this convincing embodiment of divine love. Impressive speculative fiction, and a bracing tonic for an election year. Agent: Marly Rusoff/Marly Rusoff & Associates
"[An] intriguing novel...Funny but in a mostly gentle way...[It] effectively mix[es] elements of Vidal's Messiah and Mailer's The Gospel According to the Son with elements of Joe Klein's Primary Colors."—Booklist
Boston Globe
"A divine novelty . . . Jesus is irresistible. . . . The book's gentle satire effectively underscores Merullo's criticism of 21st-century behavior and beliefs."— Boston Globe

From the Publisher

"A divine novelty . . . Jesus is irresistible. . . . The book's gentle satire effectively underscores Merullo's criticism of 21st-century behavior and beliefs."-- Boston Globe

Product Details

Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
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Read an Excerpt

"I have to say that, on a personal level, I found Jesus to be peculiar and somewhat unpredictable. This troubled me. It also made me think about how we had all come to form an image of him in our minds. If we'd been exposed to the Bible, it was usually only to pieces of the Bible, a few parables, a few key quotes. Added to those pieces were scraps of things we'd heard, paintings by people who had never seen him, and scenes from films. And added to that, I guess, were elements of our own psychology: we wanted Jesus to be a certain way—a savior, a martyr, a pacifist, a radical political figure, a quiet and gentle man of peace, a drinker of wine, a good friend, a guy who could be comfortable around women—because those things made us feel good about him and maybe about ourselves.

But in real life he defied any kind of label. Sitting up there on the bull, he had looked like nothing more than a good ole boy Texan, shoulder muscles bulging, a steely glint in his eye. At other times, he'd move gracefully down the aisle of the jet like a ballet star, or step out of his hotel room in a suit so stylishly tailored that even Wales's wardrobe paled in comparison. Talking to a university crowd he'd use words like segue and ramification, and then, out in the country someplace, he'd be having biscuits and gravy at a diner, looking like the kind of guy who'd tell an off-color joke at the VFW bar or come over the hill riding and ATV and howling the rebel yell.

In another politician, this would have felt like phoniness. In Jesus, somehow it all seemed part of one parcel. The press kept trying to squeeze him into a box: he'd talk about prohibiting assault rifles or sentencing nonviolent drug offenders to counseling instead of jail, and they'd brand him a bleeding-heart liberal who would probably raise taxes; the next week he'd be going on about real threats to American security in the coming years, and the necessity of people doing things for themselves rather than looking for handouts, and all of a sudden he was a right-wing, hard-hearted, so-and-so. What was particularly interesting was that, the more the political analysts tried to push him into one corner or another, the more ordinary voters, the ones who counted, seemed to appreciate that he actually spoke from his heart, without any calculation."

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"Amazing, amazing! American Savior is one of the funniest books I've ever read, and also one of the most serious. Roland Merullo has addressed the major issues of our time, politics and religion, with originality, imagination, and a sense of humor, and has given us a whole new way to see the world. Read this book! —Susan Cheever

Meet the Author

Roland Merullo is the critically acclaimed author of five books of nonfiction and twelve novels, including the Revere Beach Trilogy, Golfing with God, Breakfast with Buddha, The Vatican Waltz, and Dinner with Buddha. He lives with his wife and children in Massachusetts. His website is

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American Savior: A Novel of Divine Politics 4.8 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 5 reviews.
Eco More than 1 year ago
This book is as brilliant and entertaining as Merullo's other great books, Golfing with God and Breakfast with Buddha. The books makes you think and encourages you to be a better person no matter what religion you are (and yes, even us athiests find it enjoyable). I have never felt so close to Jesus! This book would be a great focus for a reading club. The characters are well-developed as is the plot, and there is plenty to talk about. All of Merullo's books are page-turners. I could take them to the beach, on a plane, inside on a rainy day, or on a hammock under the sun. I highly recommend this book, and suggest you check out his others as well. You don't have to be any particular religion to appreciate these characters and to learn from each one of them. I am looking forward to his other books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Larreview More than 1 year ago
Very funny, satirical look at the American democratic process, with a religious spin.... The story is told through the eyes of a well known news reporter, who Jesus Christ, himself, has chosen as part of his campaign to run for President of the United States of America.
LLAWEN More than 1 year ago
I have read many of Mr. Merullo's books, which are not only great fun, but poke gently at our foibles, these days, and include characters which are so well drawn that we don't notice any heavy handed messages. I *loved* "Golfing With God" and really enjoyed "Breakfast With Buddha" (as a Buddhist, I was impressed by how well the plot unfolded), but have to say that of all his books "American Savior" is the best that I have read. I literally did not put it down from start to finish but for "necessary" breaks for food and hygiene. I highly recommend this author's books as both good escapist fun and as great topics for conversation and debate. You won't be disappointed!