Main : feminism, fiction, human rights, religion
232 x 154 mm
“Sex, silence and sin”, this is what newly appointed professor, Dee P. Scrutari, writes in her notebook as she turns her anthropological gaze on the tribe of “non-reproducing males” who dominate St Jude's, a prestigious Catholic liberal arts college. Evil is in the air. Something is awry.
What happened to the previous occupant of her newly-painted office? Professor Scrutari's fieldwork begins. Her notebooks fill. And the mystery mounts: disturbing odours that no air cleanser will disperse, turbulent faculty meetings, tenure politics, intrigue around women's bodies, and a strange ginger cat. The mix is complicated by secret student alliances, predatory priests, the end of a marriage and new love, an imperious college president, a lumbering dean, a faction-ridden Religious Studies Department, a radical mass and a dissident feminist liturgy.
The determined anthropologist doodles and decodes the symbols and signs of evil as she teams up with a band of colleagues marginalised by the department - a liberation theology nun, a gay priest, and a Jew - and three feisty women students. They strategise and sleuth as they attempt to solve a number of campus mysteries.
"Evil," Dee declares, "is visceral, pervasive, subtle, not an abstract concept at all." Evil is about now. Evil is a novel full of vivid characters you know, or want to know. It is at once funny, witty, sobering, profound and provocative; full of affection for the academic world Diane Bell so lovingly describes; and is concerned to nurture against the darker forces she seeks to identify and expose.
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All of us who have read and loved Daughters of the Dreaming know that Diane Bell is both a brilliant anthropologist and writer of rich, evocative prose. Now she has given us a gripping novel, and what better subject for her unflinching gaze than the culture of higher education and religion.Cassandra Pybus, Author of The Devil and James McAuley
With a discerning anthropologist's eye and a deft novelist's hand, Diane Bell skewers and dissects the customs of an exotic and endangered tribe — the administrators, faculty and staff of a small Catholic college in the USA. This novel is disturbing and witty, but ultimately hopeful, for in this fictional world, evil is beaten back and ethical women triumph.Janet Catherine Berlo, Author of Quilting Lessons and Wild by Design
Diane Bell's Evil could be recommended reading for social science students, providing an example of how a social researcher works, observing, recording, analysing, even when dealing with her own work and relationships. She infuses the novel with her own ethnographic skills and Dee Scrutari's notes and reflections are ethnography in action while the novel goes beyond biographical fiction.Jim McDonald, Amazon Reader Review
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