Sartori ruthlessly confronts the Catholic Church, hypermasculinity, environmental manipulation, capitalism, feel-good entitlement, and more, all in the name of God (whose perfection proves anything but). PEN/Heim Translation Fund–awarded Randall ensures that Sartori’s English-language debut conveys the full impact of Sartori’s scathing humor.
The novel’s drama lies in Daphne’s tale, which God gradually tells: the story of her own messy existence, and the mess she is making of His. Unfortunately, Daphne’s story proves a little scattered, in part because she is kept at such a remove from the reader that she never emerges as a complex, coherent character, only as an object of God’s fascination. Humor is famously tough to translate, and perhaps I Am God is a more successful book in Italian than in this English version. The premise is certainly fun. The problem is that God, here, isn’t provocative or charismatic enough to pull off a one-man show ... If God in a novel cracks a joke, it can be silly or grim or anywhere in between, but it has to be funny.
... an almost outrageously charming book...Giacomo Sartori takes a simple, playful premise and sets the universe crazily spinning. The Italian writer has conjured up a delicious, comical stream of omniconsciousness ... a being of authentic complexity and paradoxical humanity, of both otherworldly dignity and satirical absurdity, is an irresistible character ... Sartori playfully deploys God’s omniscience, dangling it here, pulling it away there, like a cat toy. The effect is happily destabilizing, as is his radically changing perspective, ants to nebulas to bull semen to the brilliant, explosive birth of stars. Sartori creates a God whose language is casual and genial, a God whom you could have a beer with, and perhaps already have, then yanks him back to the most remote heavens, leaving us here on Earth as insignificant specks ... The only certainty is Sartori’s humor, godlike, infusing every part of the book from the premise to the plot to the venal, amiably clueless characters to the language of the diary narrated in the celestial being’s intelligent, deadpan voice ... The elegant, easy-going translation by Frederika Randall is convincing and conversational, reveling in the diary’s asides, footnotes, and parentheses in which God is constantly setting the record, and the reader, straight ... Sartori has bestowed on us a narrative that is both comforting and disconcerting.