The God-Fearing Gay

Review of God Says No by James Hannaham (McSweeney’s)

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Gary Gray is gay, in spite of his best efforts. The main character of James Hannaham’s debut novel, God Says No, Gray is a charmingly self-deluded, overweight black man who believes that Jesus has stopped talking to him. In his hopeless efforts to rid himself of “sinful” homosexual urges, Gray recalls his favorite fire-and-brimstone preachers of his rural-Southern youth, gets married, has a child, and spends time in an ex-gay camp. He even fakes his own death in order to live as a gay man, ostensibly to exhaust his homosexuality before returning to his family as a heterosexual. “Damn,” says his brother Joe at one point. “I must say, I’ve never known anybody who could fool themselves as good as you.”