Genesis of the Dead | Book Review
As a PhD student, I read a lot. I read for work, school, and fun—hundreds, sometimes thousands of pages each week. Very rarely, however, do I encounter a book that is uproariously funny. Even rarer are books which are simultaneously hilarious and theologically sound. C. T. Casberg’s Genesis of the Dead: A Zombie Comedy of Biblical Proportions, however, fits this bill perfectly.
A joy to read, Genesis of the Dead is both side-splittingly-funny and theologically insightful at the same time, making me alternate between pausing to guffaw and stopping to reflect. Set in a world of zombies and cast as the tale of a prisoner to his centurion guard, Genesis of the Dead delightfully and poignantly retells the Biblical stories of Genesis and Exodus. Beginning in “The City” (Paradise) with Todd’s (Adam’s) fall into death—literally, the human population becomes zombies—this book traces the history of the world from Creation to the Exodus, offering insights into free will, human sinfulness, the Director (God), the forbidden fruit, the deceiver, and much (much) more along the way.
Throughout Genesis of the Dead, Casberg brilliantly weaves the Biblical narratives, theological reflection, the zombie genre, and humorous dialogue together into a reflective and meaningful tale. He superbly co-opts and recasts Biblical themes and structures (for example, the opening chapter starts with “In the beginning…”) in a respectfully funny way. This is no mockumentary attempting to poke fun at the ridiculousness of the Biblical narrative, but a creative and comical retelling of Genesis and Exodus for the 21st century. This is one of the best “Bible as narrative” retellings I have ever come across, and stands as superb example of what Geza Vermes called “re-written Bible” (though I hasten to add that Casberg is not a second century Jewish rabbi writing from Syria).
Filled with squirrel cavalry, Miley Cyrus slams, uproarious puns, Cowboy angels, and rock-band montages (trust me, you want to read this book), the intertextuality of Genesis of the Dead is top notch. In fact, Genesis of the Dead is so well-written, funny, and full of observations worthy of contemplation that I am seriously considering its addition to a couple of my syllabi. Observant readers will notice that Genesis of the Dead is the first in the Light of the Dead series, which will contain two more books retelling the Biblical narrative. My only quibble (and it is just that—a quibble) with this book involves its current availability only via Kindle. I’m admittedly a “hard copy” guy, and Casberg intends to rectify this concern by having hard copies available by Christmas.
Genesis of the Dead: A Zombie Comedy of Biblical Proportions comes highly recommended and—assuming hard copies are available soon—would make a great Christmas gift. If you like reading things that are funny, buy this book. If you enjoy things that make you think, buy this book. If you enjoy the zombie genre, buy this book. In short, buy Genesis of the Dead. It’s a great blend of hilarity and important reminders about human sinfulness and the greatness of God, and it is well worth your read.
Photo courtesy of Calo Schlavo.