LDS Fiction Writers

December 8, 2003 | 14 comments
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Below we are discussing books in the Mormon Studies genre, but one of our readers — Sid Sharma from Ann Arbor — emailed me to inquire about LDS authors who write “modern, literary fiction.” Good question. Who are some LDS authors we really love to read? Anyone care to share a review of a favorite LDS author?

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14 Responses to LDS Fiction Writers

  1. Clark Goble on December 8, 2003 at 3:20 am

    I have to admit that I never read LDS Fiction. Hate the stuff that I have read. However AML discusses fiction about as much as anything.

    http://www.aml-online.org/list/

  2. sid on December 8, 2003 at 8:35 am

    I was hoping to getinfo about LDS writers who write regular fiction, definitely not LDS-fiction. Brady Udall is one writer comes to mind. I think he teaches Creative Writing at either Western or Northern Illinois U. “The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint” is a very highly regarded novel from him, plus a book of short stories titled “Letting Loose the Hounds”, which won a bunch of awards. I would highly recommend both books.

  3. Ben on December 8, 2003 at 11:09 am

    Orson Scott Card writes great stuff. The Ender’s Game series, the Alvin series, Treason, Enchantment… about 10 others. It’s not explicitly LDS (but then I think most explicitly LDS stuff is just schlock anyway…sorry Deseret Book…)

  4. nate on December 8, 2003 at 11:46 am

    I don’t know that there is anything peculiarlly Mormon about her fiction, but the Scottish mystery novelist Anne Perry is LDS, and until recently served as the relief society president of her ward.

    I think that Orson Scott Card’s book Saints is the best fictional Mormon treatement of the introduction of polygamy in Nauvoo currently available. (And that is saying something!)

    However, I have to admitt that I am with Clark. Virtually all of the explicitly LDS fiction that I have read has been pretty bad…

  5. Clark Goble on December 8, 2003 at 1:27 pm

    One of Ann Perry’s novels involved a rich woman in England murdered by her husband because she joined the church and it was embarrassing to him. (Her novels are murder mysteries typically within the upper crust of Victorian society)

  6. Nate on December 8, 2003 at 1:38 pm

    I disagree with Ben. I think that the Alvin Maker novels are fairly explicitly LDS. Alvin is transparently modeled on Joseph Smith. In addition, his Homecoming series is obviously a retelling of the Book of Mormon story.

  7. Ben on December 8, 2003 at 2:14 pm

    The nature of the ALvin series (on JS) or Homecoming (on the BoM) is obvious only to LDS people. The characters aren’t explicitly labled as Mormons, and non-LDS can enjoy them completely without commenting “What a stupid Mormon book.” They can just say ‘What a stupid book. :) ( BTW, I have some evangelical friends who love his books. They wouldn’t be so enthusiastic if they were labeled as “Mormon books.”)

    Therefore, I standby it and say, they’re not explicitly LDS :)

  8. clark goble on December 8, 2003 at 3:06 pm

    On the other hand _Folk of the Fringe_, _Lost Boys_, and _Saints_ are all books with explicitly Mormon issues. Interestingly I’d say that his most Mormon books, in terms of “ideology” are his early ones which are his least explicitly Mormon.

    BTW – with regards to Mormon fiction. I hear Levi Peterson is the big name in the genre. I’ve tried reading him a few times and can’t get into him. Interestingly he’s only nominally Mormon, as I understand it.

  9. Eric James Stone on December 8, 2003 at 3:21 pm

    One of Orson Scott Card’s novels, Lost Boys, is about a modern LDS family, but it is not marketed as an LDS novel. (It’s marketed as horror. No relation to the horror movie by the same name.) Based on the comments of non-Mormon friends who have read it, I think he does a great job of portraying a Mormon family in a way that is accessible to non-Mormons.

  10. Jim on December 8, 2003 at 4:04 pm

    I’m not much of a fiction reader, but I have four names to add, none of whom is as much a writer of LDS fiction as an LDS writer of fiction: Darell Spencer, a short story writer; the only title I remember is Woman Packing a Pistol. Brian Evanson, though I’m not sure about his present connection to the Church; he writes short stories and, I believe, has a novella out; his first collection of short stories was Altmann’s Tongue; unless his work has changed drastically, don’t try his work if you’re not up to dealing with unredeeming violence. Bruce Jorgenson, also a short-story writer, but I don’t think he has a collection. You’ll have to find his stuff piece meal, perhaps by beginning with his BYU web site. (It is under the English department.) The last of the four is Doug Thayer, who writes mostly short stories and whose work is more often explicitly about LDS than the others. A good place to go for information about any of these, or others is the “Mormon Literature Database”: http://mldb.byu.edu/whoswho.htm

  11. Jim on December 8, 2003 at 4:06 pm

    Correction to my last post: the one I gave is outdated, though it has a link to the newer one. To get there directly, go to http://mormonlit.lib.byu.edu/

  12. clark on December 8, 2003 at 4:29 pm

    Brian Evenson is an interesting case. He’s definitely a very, very dark writer. Then he became rather upset at his treatment by BYU. He then wrote that novel about child abuse where a Bishop is the villain. I think he had more of a falling out after that (perhaps in part due to that novel. I don’t recall the details.

    It’s interesting how dark many LDS novelists are. Even Orson Scott Card, the darling of Mormons everywhere, had a reputation as the most violent author in SF back in the 80′s. He was very shocking and in certain ways paralleled both Evenson and LaBute. The difference is that he toned things down after a while and always was far more pro-Mormon in the explicit references.

    I sometimes wonder if this “darkness” is an aspect of Mormon philosophy. Card’s darkest novels are, in my opinion, his most “Mormon.”

  13. Adam Greenwood on December 8, 2003 at 11:04 pm

    I don’t know how many of these writers would qualify as literary fiction. For general discussions of Mormon fiction, I like to go to http://www.nauvoo.com/ubb/cgi/ultimatebb.cgi. They have a category for LDS Books, Plays, and Music.

  14. carlin on September 10, 2005 at 3:41 am

    My husband introduced me to Orson Scott Card’s Alvin series. I loved them and the paralells drawn to the JS history. I agree with Ben, that they are not explicitly LDS. Were I not a member, they simply draw fantastical allusions. Interestingly, my husband read them as a teenager, before he converted to the church and tells me they were a key factor to his conversion.

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