Accidental Gods | Granta

  • Published: 05/01/2023
  • ISBN: 9781783785025
  • Granta Books
  • 488 pages

Accidental Gods

Anna Della Subin

Spanning the globe and five centuries, Accidental Gods introduces us to a new pantheon: of man-gods, deified politicians and imperialists, militants, mystics and explorers. From the conquistadors setting foot in the New World to Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, elevated by a National Geographic article from emperor to messiah for the Rastafari faith, to the unlikely officers hailed as gods during the British Raj, this endlessly curious and revelatory account chronicles an impulse towards deification that persists even in a secular age, as show of defiance or assertion of power.

In her bravura final part, Subin traces the colonial desire for divinity through to the creation of ‘race’ and the white power movement today, and argues that it is time we rid ourselves of the white gods among us.

Often colourful and bizarre, Accidental Gods opens new perspectives, shines light on overlooked corners of our global history, and conveys its powerful messages at first quietly, in subtext, and then more and more explicitly... Always enlightening and engrossing

Lydia Davis, author of Essays One and Two

Rich, witty, acerbic and often astonishing, Accidental Gods reveals how terror and divinity are intertwined - in the colonial enterprise, in present-day strong leader cults and nationalist statecraft. A highly original, revelatory study, entertaining and sobering at once as it identifies a persistent danger: the mythopolitics that fails to distinguish between men and gods.

Dame Marina Warner, author of Stranger Magic and Fellow of All Souls

Accidental Gods relates, with tremendous intellectual ingenuity and resourcefulness, a new history of the modern world: how the quest for divine sanction and spiritual transcendence remain at the center of our ostensibly rational and secular political and economic struggles.

Pankaj Mishra

The Author

Anna Della Subin is a writer, critic and independent scholar born in New York and now living in Dublin. Her essays have appeared in Harper’s, the LRB, New York Times and New Yorker. A senior editor at Bidoun, she studied the history of religion at Harvard Divinity School. Accidental Gods is her first book.

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Essays & Memoir | The Online Edition

First Rites

Anna Della Subin

An excerpt from Anna Della Subin’s Accidental Gods.