“Are you there, God? It is I, Robot” is a modified excerpt from the third chapter of my novel in progress.
Although the excerpt is almost 8000 words, it constitutes less than half of the full chapter. The full chapter, which addresses the question “Does God exist?”, took me more than 2 years to write. It is easily one of the most ambitious fiction pieces that I have ever written.
The chapter draws from a wide range of scholarly influences – not only philosophy of religion, but other branches of knowledge such as linguistics, art theory, and communication studies. This reflects an energising development in my practice – its expanding interdisciplinarity. At the same time, the chapter draws from a range of pop cultural influences (especially Judy Blume’s classic young adult novel Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret). This reflects the engagement with pop culture that’s become signature to my fiction.
The excerpt has appeared in three publications. It was originally published in the Spring 2016 issue of Canadian literary magazine PRISM international (and was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize). A few months later, an electronic edition of the excerpt was published in Volume 19, Issue 5 of Australian literary magazine Review of Australian Fiction. The PRISM international issue has since sold out and Review of Australian Fiction is no longer running. A slightly longer version of the excerpt later appeared in BooksActually’s Gold Standard 2016, an anthology of “short fiction by the best cult writers of East Asia, Southeast Asia and the diaspora”, published by Singaporean publisher Math Paper Press.