A Catholic priest precariously balances spiritual devotion and lust in New York City's squalid 1970s. Father Abram Singer's voice ranges from anguished prayer to beatitude, where the forgiveness he seeks for his frailty offers a path to atonement.
— Mike Hare
Abram Singer is a Catholic priest with an unusual name and a dark secret. Against the backdrop of gritty 1970s New York, in a simple, straightforward style, he tells us his story. The son of an absent Jewish father and a devout Italian mother, Abram was drawn to the meaningful structure of the seminary, eventually becoming a parish priest in Manhattan. His sincerest wish is to do God’s work, but he is not without human failings: he is irresistibly attracted to women and has a secret lover named Lisa. But when an anonymous letter arrives threatening to expose his liaison, he is forced to decide whether the risks of his sin have become too great. Riveting and powerfully intimate, Unworthy unflinchingly explores the nature of faith, loyalty, and identity—and gives us a timeless portrait of a man trying to make his way in America’s greatest city.
About the Author
Antonio Monda is the author of five novels and five collections of essays. His books have been translated into eleven languages. He is a regular contributor to La Repubblica, and his work has also appeared in The Paris Review, Fiction, The Common, and Vanity Fair. He lives in New York City, where he teaches at New York University.
“With storytelling finesse, Antonio Monda has written a compact and forceful book that might be a morbid erotic tale out of Boccaccio, exposing the tormented lust of the clergy.” —Philip Roth
“A meditation on the contradictions of a calling that demands both a sensitivity to the beauty of God’s creation and the restraint to remain detached from its most intense pleasures.” —The New Yorker
“With elegance, grace, and clarity, Antonio Monda depicts a crisis of faith and longing in New York.” —Colum McCann, National Book Award–winning author of Let the Great World Spin
“Passionate, singular. . . . Gives us a whiskey priest for the ages.” —Mary Karr, author of The Liars’ Club
“A striking novel about an unlikely priest, one who is alive with contradictions. This is a beautiful meditation on faith, sex, frailty, and, above all, love.” —Cathleen Schine, author of The Three Weissmanns of Westport
“Monda has miraculously entwined two distinct genres that turn out to unexpectedly and beautifully illuminate each other: the novel of urban nostalgia . . . and the memoir of spiritual struggle, which has its roots in St. Augustine’s Memoirs—a work that haunts Monda’s in more ways than one.” —Daniel Mendelsohn, author of An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic
“A moving exploration of suffering and happiness and an examination of the shame of sin and the thrill of yearning. . . . Paint[s] an intimate portrait of a man besieged by the tumultuous collision of doctrine and desire.” —Booklist
“Makes the terrestrial feel holy. . . . Monda proves himself a worthy interlocutor of the spiritual and the secular alike.” —Publishers Weekly