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New City of Books Podcast Featuring Jan Carson

Faith, Hope and Humour

The Raptures is Jan Carson’s most autobiographical novel, dealing with a child raised in an evangelical Christian community in 1990s Northern Ireland – which mirrors her own background.

In her book, a class of children from the same village fall prey to a mysterious and deadly epidemic. Only one pupil seems to be avoiding the effects of the disease: Hannah, a girl from a born-again Christian background.

“There is a lot of me in this book and for that reason it was both very easy to write because I know this world very well, there wasn’t a lot of research to do, but quite difficult to write – to go to the hard places,” Jan tells Martina Devlin in the latest City of Books podcast.

“It’s very easy to pastiche this world. It’s very easy to pastiche Protestant culture in the North full stop. It’s much more difficult to have a nuanced look at it.”

In her books, Jan gives readers a strong sense of the Protestant experience, especially for those from the ‘born again’ community.

“I grew up absolutely immersed in the King James Bible,” she says. “That is not a bad literary document to be immersed in as a writer. It’s got everything from poetry and prophecy to magical realism and beautiful, beautiful language. I’m very glad for those things.”

But she is not happy about other elements. “I was brought up in a community that thought politics was dirty…so we didn’t vote in our family. And I’m not particularly grateful for that.

“It’s an apolitical stance. We don’t go to the cinema – the cinema is worldly. We don’t get involved in politics because politics is of the world. You trust God to sort out those things.”

The Raptures by Jan Carson is published by Doubleday.


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