“Something that was so important was how to write other people’s stories, how to write about all these different ideas, from traditions so different from my own.”
With her fantastic new book, Accidental Gods: On Men Unwittingly Turned Divine (Metropolitan Books), Anna Della Subin explores how deification has been used for liberation and oppression. We talk religion, rationalism, colonialism, oppression, and mythmaking, and the strange ways in which cultures have collided in the past five centuries, as well as what it means to topple the statues of ‘white gods’. We also get into the long gestation of this book, the accidental gods who didn’t make the cut, her next projects on conversations with the dead, how our politics are refracted in our views of the afterlife, why QAnon is more mythology than conspiracy theory, what it was like going through childbirth & motherhood over the course of writing the book, how Anna wound up in a British tabloid for ‘canceling’ Captain Cook, and more! Give it a listen! And go read Accidental Gods: On Men Unwittingly Turned Divine!
“What’s more amazing to me than to see this book in print is to see how the idea of Accidental Gods makes perfect sense to people.”
“I’ve been updating my essay on sleep every few years. I love the idea of literary projects that don’t have a clear endpoint, that can keep growing.”
“My path to divinity school probably began in childhood. I grew up in the cracks between religions. Never one thing, never another.”
About our Guest
Anna Della Subin is a writer, critic, and independent scholar born in New York. Her essays have appeared in the New York Review of Books, Harper’s, the New York Times, and the London Review of Books. A senior editor at Bidoun, she studied the history of religion at Harvard Divinity School. Accidental Gods is her first book.
Credits: This episode’s music is Fella by Hal Mayforth, used with permission from the artist. The conversation was recorded remotely via Zencastr. I used a Heil PR-40 Dynamic Studio Recording Microphone feeding into a Cloudlifter CL-1 and a Mackie Onyx Blackjack 2×2 USB Recording Interface. All processing and editing done in Adobe Audition CC. Photo of Anna by Nina Subin. It’s on my instagram.