‘The Shoe on the Roof’ by Will Ferguson

“Trying to explain human emotions and ideas by referring to their molecular foundations is like trying to explain a cathedral by holding up a brick.”

Canadian author Will Ferguson will be best known for his Giller Prize winner 419, a story of internet scams out of Nigeria, a book which I never read, but did get my husband to write a Guest Post about.

The Shoe on the Roof is Ferguson’s latest novel and it has a unique premise. Thomas Rosanoff grew up world renowned as “The Boy in the Box.” His father conducted experiments on Thomas and wrote a leading book on child development. Now Thomas is himself in medical school, and embarking on research of his own. There are three homeless men who all claim to be Jesus. For reasons that will soon become clear when you read the book, Thomas decides to bring them home and study them, and possibly also cure them from their delusions. Of course the whole caper soon falls apart and points to more sinister events at play. I loved the humour in this book, but the story was just ok for me and not as well crafted or suspenseful as I’d expected.

There are however, many interesting explorations of how faith and spirituality mesh with neuroscience in this novel. For example, one of the main characters is talking about a certain type of brain scan and says, “if I hook you up while you’re praying, the neuro-chemical pathways will light up like a map of God!” Another character is talking about finding empathy, reason, etc. in certain locations in the brain, but love? “Love is hard to locate in one particular area. It’s a bit of a mystery really.” 🙂


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