Sunday’s Silence

Listen to interviews and read reviews and excerpts from Sunday’s Silence.

  • Sunday's Silence - US



“One of the Best Books of the Year,” Los Angeles Times


Los Angeles Times Bestseller




Sunday's SilenceSunday's Silence


One of the best books of 2001. Gina Nahai looks at snake-handling from the inside, and the clichés of Appalachia slough off like old skin, revealing the fright and the awe that makes extreme Christianity so potent. Because Nahai is not interested in sensationalizing such extreme religious notions, Sunday’s Silence demands that we pay them attention and lets us understand a little better their powerful lure.”

— Los Angeles Times


“A bold, passionate tale of fanaticism and seduction. Sensitively and vividly rendered. Exotic, mythic…a tale told by a Scheherazade…parts of the tale told on different nights, each fascinating in its own right, each contributing to the story but also telling more than the story needs. Nahai lays her story of a strange folk and the enigma of charisma against a background rich in history. Sunday’s Silence is an ambitious and entertaining novel that will please fans of Nahai’s novels. It could also win her new readers.”

— Chicago Tribune


Sunday’s Silence is exactly the kind of book that Americans need to be reading right now, a book in which East and West collide, not only in war, but in love. Nahai writes equally well about these two worlds, both beautiful and cruel, both filled with serpents real and imagined. The novel is a testament to the fact that even at our strangest we are not so different, that at our strangest we are most alike.”

— San Francisco Chronicle


“Gina Nahai has set her third novel in a world that is exotic, terrifying, and endlessly alluring. She has the ability to deploy the telling detail, to write…a marvelous sentence…passages that contain a wonderful, authentic rhythm.”

— Washington Post Book World


Astonishing…a searing romance, a spiritual quest, a compelling tale. Myth, history, faith, love and desire crash into each other and burn throughout Sunday’s Silence but it is the interplay of all of these with fundamentalism that drives this lyrical work. Nahai’s true achievement is to dig deep into the heart, soul, and — perhaps more difficult — the psyche of Christian fundamentalism at its most extreme. Sunday’s Silence is an eloquent look into the heart of belief, into hearts of darkness and hearts of light.”

— San Diego Union-Tribune


A literary tour-de-force…A novel of powerful magnetism…An accomplishment worth celebrating. Nahai skillfully weaves the tangled separate stories of her characters, and she does it as effectively as Faulkner did years earlier with the hidden lives of his characters.”

— Denver Rocky Mountain News


Haunting…Nahai’s dreamlike story beguiles with its depiction of a world where worshippers drink strychnine to prove their faith. Home, we learn, still casts a powerful spell.”

— People Magazine


“In the tradition of Southern writers from Faulkner to O’Connor…Nahai captivates, filling her stories with characters and multi-voiced narratives that rival those of her earlier works.”

— Los Angeles Magazine


Unusual and enthralling. Nahai deftly explores the enigma of charisma. Most intriguing is the author’s highly stylistic treatment of the question of faith versus fanaticism and the notion of fear as the strongest motivating force for those who seeks salvation.”

— San Antonio Express-News


Valuable for its illumination of fanatical faith and for its revelation of cultures…Nahai’s Appalachia is a place of isolated beauty, crushing poverty and appalling ignorance. Here, the holy rollers breed faith by fear, demanding members handle snakes, drink strychnine and plunge their limbs into fire as piety tests.”

— Orlando Sentinel


“Faith versus fundamentalism, fear as a motivating force for seeking salvation…Nahai explores the enigma of charisma, opening a window on an insular world and rendering the ‘other’ America explicable.”

— Publisher’s Weekly


“A spectacular, disquieting, and poetic tale.”



Click Microphone to Listen to First Chapter:  audio


Adam Watkins is the illegitimate son of little Sam Jenkins, founder of the snake-handling Holiness sect in Appalachia. Denied by his father, abandoned by his mother, Adam has been in flight from his past for twenty years — until he returns to investigate the possible murder of his father by one of the church members. The suspect, Blue, is a fiery-haired, purple-eyed beauty with a clouded past and a reputation for being immune to earthly harm. Carried from the mountains of Asia at the age of thirteen by her professor husband and educated into his willed universe of reason and civility, she represents everything that is foreign yet familiar to the world of the snake handlers.

When Blue and Adam meet, the power that moves between them is both dark and exhilarating. Will their sudden love, like the mortal bite of a poisonous snake taken up in mid-prayer, destroy or redeem them?

In indelible images and mesmerizing prose, Gina Nahai brings to life a little-known part of America, a land of stunning beauty and heartrending poverty — untamed by man, seemingly forgotten by God. There, she explores the triumph of passion over reason, the cross-cultural mysteries of faith, and the price of hope.