"This novel of two brothers is a tale of two quests, Peter's to understand Will and Will's to experience God. John Barbour poignantly captures conflicts in spirituality today: family faith vs. distant wisdom, doctrine vs. lived practice, obedience vs. innovation. He keenly observes how paths of renunciation can become possessions. This paradox sends Peter searching, from academic Chicago to Buddhist Thailand, then to a Sikh community in India--where Will's mystery inspires unsettled but caring thought."
--Larry D. Bouchard, Professor of Religious Studies, University of Virginia
"This novel about two brothers divided by their common interest in religion effectively dramatizes the risks and rewards of spiritual questing. I found it thoughtful, wise, funny, sad, and in the end deeply affecting."
--G. Thomas Couser, Professor of English, Emeritus, Hofstra University
"John Barbour's compelling fictional story of a young, skeptical academic's love, concern, and ultimately compassion for his spiritually rebellious younger brother in the 1970s and 80s touches the reader's heart. Somewhat autobiographical in nature, this historical novel . . . narrates Barbour's own exploration of traditional and contemporary religious ideas and practices, particularly regarding renunciation, from his personal and scholarly perspectives."
--William K. Mahony, Charles A. Dana Professor of Religion, Davidson College
"Renunciation is a stimulating and thought-provoking novel that exposes the reader to a wide range of religious and philosophical ideas. These ideas are unfolded through the relationship of two brothers. Will converts to Bhakti Dharma, a new religion, in 1971 while Peter becomes a religious scholar. They take different, and at times painfully divergent, paths as they each struggle to understand faith. The novel captures the spiritual quest of that decade."
--Tripp Ryder, President, Midwest Independent Booksellers Association
The story moves the reader to consider renunciation as both a letting go--and a letting in. Like nature, religion abhors a vacuum, and the space renunciation hallows and hollows out easily fills with something else: despair, blind devotion, violence, and possibly even hope."
--Martha E. Stortz, Bernhard M. Christensen Professor for Religion and Vocation, Augsburg College
Renunciation is, on the one hand, primarily a novel of ideas--and they are ideas that will resonate in the minds of nearly all of us who teach religious studies or theology in contemporary North America. But on the other hand,Renunciation is also the account of an emotional drama focused on how differing religious experiences and understandings of religion play out in family interactions and in the minds of two religiously sensitive but very different siblings. The narrator's voice is usually calm, measured, and articulate. But there is also real emotional conflict here and a murder mystery at the end that propels the novel's plot.
--Glenn Yocum, The Journal of the American Academy of Religion