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What The Word On The Street is Reading: The Divinity Gene

May 22, 2014

Divinity Gene book cover

Let’s all give a big welcome to Cindy Pang! Cindy recently began as The Word On The Street’s new Programming Assistant, so she has a lot of reading ahead of her this summer as she helps organize the festival’s stellar programming line-up. Cindy’s latest read was The Divinity Gene by Matthew J. Trafford, published by Douglas & McIntyre in 2011.

About the book:

A mob of teens descends upon Paris in the thrall of a self-help author; a grotesque yard-sale statuette frees a dying man from his silence; the hottest club in town is staffed by angels. This is the uncanny world of The Divinity Gene, Matthew J. Trafford’s debut story collection, and it bristles with humour, pathos and imaginative power.

Skewering urban culture even as it conjures up the magic in the mundane, the stories of The Divinity Gene map the frailty of the human heart. Caught in the crosshairs of faith and science, its characters—bereaved, sidelined, cast adrift—journey forth to the undiscovered places, in search of something to believe in, someone to love, always with disarming results. A passionately devout scientist clones Jesus Christ from the DNA contained in holy relics; a man makes a Faustian cyber deal with the devil for the sake of his family; bereaved parents sign on for an unorthodox government reparations project following a school tragedy.

Masterfully original, deeply human, The Divinity Gene introduces a bold and evocative new writer.

Q&A with Cindy

What drew you to this book?

“I hate to be one of those people, but the cover is the first thing that made me want to pick up this book. It’s quirky and a little offbeat and it piqued my interest enough to make me want to read the summary on the front flap. If the cover is what first caught my eye, then the blurb is what really sold me on this book. Who could possibly resist a book that promises short stories about nightclubs staffed by angels, mermaid vivisection, and human cloning?”

Did you enjoy the book?

“Very much so. The stories are very original and diverse, ranging from heartfelt (“The Renegade Angels of Parkdale”) to heartbreaking (“Victim Services”) all the way to creepy and extremely unsettling (“iFaust”). Despite the fact that many of the stories are only ten or so pages long, the characters are rich and memorable… it will be awhile before I ever forget the unfortunate mermaid from “Gutted” or Jordan Shaw and his bizarre collection of religious artifacts and memorabilia from the book’s titular story, “The Divinity Gene.” I also really liked how Trafford wasn’t afraid to stray away from the traditional short story format and experiment with form.”

Would you recommend it?

“Wholeheartedly! It’s a terrific read and the stories are so different that I can confidently guarantee that this book has something for everyone.”