In retrospect, I see that this is a novel about a woman who wishes she were the Mother of God. When I wrote it, I was trying to understand how we live with irreconcilable longings—in this case, grace and desire.

This is a family story, and it is set in motion by the eruption something buried beneath two decades of life and lies by Sylvia and Arthur Adamski. Their youngest son, Stephen, is arrested for vandalizing a synagogue. When the local police, the Berkshire County prosecutors, and psychiatrists are frustrated by Stephen’s refusal to answer the charges, on the grounds that his kingdom is not of this world, the investigation turns to the past, and the abortive ambitions and misconceived desires that fuel Stephen’s increasingly tormented and violent bid for redemption.