“Backslider” Turns 20

One of the more interesting events in Mormon Literature this year is the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Backslider, perhaps the finest LDS novel published to date. (The other novel widely considered for this designation is Maureen Whipple’s The Giant Joshua. Personally, I prefer The Backslider).

While I expect there will be other events to mark this occasion, Sunstone has apparently stepped up to commemorate the event, by publishing a series of essay’s on the book’s effect.

Sunstone recently issued a call for essays on the book, as part of this effort. Essays are to be 500 to 1,500 words long, and are open to any theme that the writer would like to cover. Those interested should send their essays to Cherie Woodworth (cherie.woodworth [at] gmail.com).

Regardless of what you think of LDS literature, this is one title that is worth the read, and should be included in the “canon” of LDS literature — those works that you have to have read to be fully educated in Mormon culture. If the Mormon people were truely a separate culture and nation, this book would be on the required reading list in high school, just like Tom Sawyer, The Last of the Mohicans and The Sun Also Rises are for many high school students in the US.

4 thoughts on ““Backslider” Turns 20”

  1. Thanks for this post. I was a latecomer to Backslider, but since I read it a couple of years ago (on the recommendation, I might add, of Jared Hess of Napoleon Dynamite fame), I’ve been proselytizing it heavily. In fact, I bought a few copies that I found in a used bookstore recently and I’ve been assigning it to friends. I only wish it was still in print so Levi would get a cut…

    I concur, it’s a classic piece of Mormon lit. Utterly engaging and moving. Ingeniously crafted characters. The final scene was one of the most profound literary moments–and, I should say, religious moments–I’ve ever experienced.


    Posted by Otto

  2. I’m not sure why you say it is not in print. “The Backslider” is clearly in print! See Signature Books’ page on the title, where you can order it. It is also available at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, and a host of other websites.

    Staying in print for 20 years is an achievement for any title. While its no where near the record for a work of Mormon literature (Added Upon, certainly a lesser work of Mormon Literature than The Backslider stayed in print for more than 100 years! — until Deseret Book took it out of print a few years ago).

    I expect The Backslider will be in print for many more years.

  3. The following comment by annegb was the only one that happened between the import and the announcement of the new blog:

    I just ordered all of Levi Peterson’s books. Kerry Blair told me they made her take out a reference to Cleopatra being bitten on the breast by an asp. That’s Covenant. I think LDS fiction writers are hindered by the idiocy of LDS publishers.

    You don’t have to get in the gutter, but denying life’s realities doesn’t make for good literature.

    [comment actually by annegb]

  4. yeah, a couple of weeks ago I hadn’t even heard of Levi Peterson, now I want to marry him and have his babies.

    Not really, I don’t want any more kids and Bill is my honey.

    I got a used copy of The Backslider in paperback, I don’t remember, but it wasn’t very much. Now I think I have all his books, except that latest one. Which I ordered.

    I’m sort of on a sensory overload at the moment with all these wonderful ideas and thoughts coming through the blog and I feel sorry for those poor people vacationing in the Bahamas without their laptop. They’re missing all the good stuff.

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