Working in Heaven can be Hell

“The CEO leaned back in his swivel chair and flicked on his flatscreen TV.”

Escaping the reign of the Nazis, I moved into a book that was far more light-hearted. I’ve said before that I have a weird addiction to books about the nature of God, as I love people’s endless takes on something we know nothing about. In this particular version, he is CEO of Heaven Inc., a company that deals with the affairs of Earth and makes sure that everything runs smoothly. However, recently he’s been phoning it in and is far more concerned with who wins sports events than answering prayers or fixing wars.

Eliza has just been promoted from the Prayers Department to an Angel in Miracles where she meets Craig, the only other person in Heaven who actually appears interested in his job. Eliza discovers that the prayers she spent so long organising have never even been touched by the CEO. Furious, she confronts him and tells him that if he’s not interested in the job anymore, maybe he should just quit.

And those simple words could spell trouble for the Earth and its inhabitants…

Simon Rich has featured on this blog already this year, and I’m fond of his work. He writes with sharpness and a brilliant sense of humour, mixing up the banal and the fantastic with such skill that it appears precision engineered. God, the CEO, is perhaps one of the sweeter versions of the character I’ve ever seen. Although clearly still capable of horrible things, he does seem to genuinely love his people. Craig is a great example of someone who has grown to love his meaningless job, and Eliza is a classically strong female character whom you want to get to know. There’s also Vince, a brash Archangel who puts on an act of bravado but scratch the surface and there’s  a lot more than that to him underneath.

There are also a few human characters here, in particular Sam and Laura. The things that the angels put them through are almost undeservedly cruel at times, but it is all for the greater good.

The novel deals with the nature of miracles and coincidence, about the abuse of power and the knowledge that our time is finite. The jokes are deft and smart, and while the story ends on a somewhat predictable note, there are some brilliant reveals along the way, in particular the explanation of what the criteria are to actually get a place in Heaven.

A frothy, easy-to-read novella with a lot of heart.

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