Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “If You Want to Make God Laugh” as Want to Read:
If You Want to Make God Laugh
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

If You Want to Make God Laugh

by
4.84  ·  Rating details ·  76 ratings  ·  54 reviews
From the author of the beloved Hum if You Don't Know the Words comes a rich, unforgettable story of three unique women in post-Apartheid South Africa who are brought together in their darkest time, and discover the ways that love can transcend the strictest of boundaries.

In a squatter camp on the outskirts of Johannesburg, seventeen-year-old Zodwa lives in desperate povert
...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Expected publication: July 16th 2019 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about If You Want to Make God Laugh, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Bianca Hi Jackie,

Yes! It will be! And the voice actors who read for Robin and Beauty will be returning, this time reading for Zodwa and Ruth. The audio book…more
Hi Jackie,

Yes! It will be! And the voice actors who read for Robin and Beauty will be returning, this time reading for Zodwa and Ruth. The audio book will be out on the 16th of July and is available for pre-order now.

Hope you enjoy it!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  76 ratings  ·  54 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Angela M
Jun 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like her debut novel, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words, this second one by Bianca Marais also has a lot to offer. With the backdrop of post apartheid South Africa as Nelson Mandela is elected president, the political environment of the 1990’s is reflected. It depicts the socioeconomic and racial divide of whites and blacks, the have and the have nots, the Aids epidemic, abuses by a Catholic priest, the stigma of homosexuality. It’s about the lives of three women whose lives are connected in a way ...more
Travel.with.a.book
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There's no doubt that Bianca is one of my favourite debut Author so reading an ARC of her second book is a really indescribable feeling and for that I want to thank Jordan from Putnam and the Author for providing me with this wonderful book!
If You Want To Make God Laugh takes place in South Africa during the late '90s and the Author's portraying is so fascinating!
.
The prose that you'll read in this novel is really intriguing filled with some interesting topics which include rasicm, the corruptio
...more
Bianca
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
For fans of ‘Hum If You Don’t Know the Words’ who were hoping for the story to continue... this isn’t a sequel but look out for Beauty and Robin who make cameo appearances in ‘If You Want to Make God Laugh’.

I absolutely loved writing this book and I really hope you’ll enjoy reading it.
Jennifer Blankfein
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Loved it so much! Photos for this review and other reviews and recommendations on https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.com.

I loved the author’s debut, Hum if you Don’t Know the Words, and feel the same about this wonderful upcoming novel out this summer. The beauty and strength of the South African women will stick with you…PREORDER your copy today!

If You Want to Make God Laugh is the fast moving and compelling story of three ladies, Zodwa, Ruth and Delilah, set in South Africa. Easy to read chapte
...more
Faith
Jun 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed, netgalley
This book takes place around 20 years after the events in “Hum if You Don’t Know the Words” and it shares some of the same characters. However, it is a standalone story about 3 women, each of whom has had a difficult experience with motherhood. Coincidentally, this is the second book I finished today in which a mother can not claim her relationship to her child.

This book was sometimes moving (although it also sometimes felt manipulative and sentimental and got sort of tear jerky at the end) and
...more
Kirsten
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Can I please give this book 6 stars? Forget the sophomore slum, If You Want to Make God Laugh is a truly spectacular follow-up to Bianca Marais’s first novel, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words.

Marais’ emotional depiction of South Africa during the late ‘90s results in a stunning novel with depth. She covers racism, homophobia, the AIDS epidemic, and corruption in church, with eye-opening frankness and heart. Her characters take root in your mind from the first page. I found myself laughing, cheer
...more
Nina Carboni
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent! I had high hopes for this bc I loved this author’s debut, Hum if You Don’t Know the Words and I wasn’t let down. This author somehow tackles the hardest of subject matter without making it too much to bear. The misery that these characters face runs the gamut of the worst of the worst and yet their humanity and hope and the universal want for a better life for themselves and their children make it so you see yourself in them and wonder if you would rise to the occasion if faced person ...more
Charmaine Shepherd
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I think I can safely say that this is my best read of 2018 and probably my all time favourite book. I found the characters so easy to connect to and I laughed and cried and then laughed and cried again. The book touched me so much that I went back and read it again. It is such a beautiful story of human frailty and challenging the lifelong beliefs that we all hold.
Alesa
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel set in South Africa, as apartheid is officially over and Nelson Mandela is being elected president, is fascinating. It looks at numerous important issues, such as interracial relationships, motherhood, sisterhood, the power of the church, lesbianism, rape, AIDS, neo-Nazi gangs and more. It is definitely a woman's book in this regard; all main characters are female. It has a tightly crafted plot, much like a jigsaw puzzle, where every piece fits at the end. I admired the author for her ...more
Linda
May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Linda by: Becky's update
As much of a WOW! as Hum If You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais Hum If You Don’t Know the Words. If I wasn't sold on Bianca Marais after meeting her at Booktopia last year...
If I wasn't sold on Bianca Marais after reading Hum If You Don’t Know the Words...
This book will do it.
Well developed characters, situations, resolutions, and explanation of a culture that I will only experience in books.

I am so thankful for Net Galley allowing me the pleasure of reading an ARC for my honest review.
Beyondthebookends
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bianca Marais’s sophomore novel, If You Want to Make God Laugh, is a brilliant work of literary fiction that has left me in its wake weeks after I finished. Thank you so much for my copy of this book!!! This story examines difficult topics with such love and sensitivity. From AIDS and poverty to racism and homophobia, this isn’t a book that you can skim over parts. Every word has its place but, it is written so poetically that I found myself trying to remember the words of wisdom within the page ...more
Clair Gibson
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Bianca Marais has established herself as a ‘must have’ on my bookshelf. I loved her debut novel so had high hopes for this one. I wasn’t disappointed. Marais brings to life post-apartheid South Africa with characters to truly care about. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming - sadly I was at the end all too soon. I’ll definitely revisit it again in the future.
Breakaway Reviewers
Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A storyline to capture your soul.

Zodwa Khumalo is seventeen-years-old and has discovered that she is pregnant. She hopes that by visiting the sangoma or witch doctor and drinking the herbal mixture, she's given it will abort the baby. Unfortunately, the muti doesn't work, and the pregnancy that should never have happened will go ahead.

Delilah Ferguson is working in a refugee centre in Zaire when a letter arrives with news that someone she cares for deeply, has been shot and is in a coma. She lea
...more
Emily
Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Wow. An emotional and powerful novel.. The story takes place in South Africa in the early/mid 90s during the transition when the apartheid ended. This novel hit on several deep, emotionally challenging topics. Racism, family conflict, HIV, rape. Having not read many novels during this era or setting, I quickly became immersed and captivated into the story. Three female characters, each with their own issues, become beautifully intertwined. Highly recommend. I will be following this author for fu ...more
Kari Ann Sweeney
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
‘If You Want To Make God Laugh’ follows the lives of three strong female characters as they live their truth against the complicated background of post-Apartheid South Africa. I was completely invested in each character. The writing was so vivid that I felt as though I was in the story alongside Ruth, Delilah and Zowda.
⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
What I admire about Marais is her ability to meet tough topics head on while still allowing light and compassion to shine through. This beautiful story is about mothers,
...more
Patrick Barry
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: booktopia
This is a fantastic read about three women who for various reasons have lost children. It is about how their best laid life plans have gone awry. Two of the women are until recently estranged older sisters who are at loggerheads about the fate of the family farm and just about everything else for that matter. The other is a young black woman whose hope for a better life is derailed by a most unwelcome pregnancy. The three woman are brought into the same orbit by a magnetic baby boy who was left ...more
Jill Dobbe
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book which was set in South Africa and deals in small ways with the ending of apartheid and the election of Mandela as the first Black president. Most importantly, it is a story about mothers, children, love, secrets and heartache, and the lengths mothers will go to to protect their children.

Written in the voices of the three main characters, each woman has her own issues and her own stories to tell. The three women are brought together by their mutual devotion and love for a child
...more
Alek Trpkovski
May 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fans of Marais’ first novel know the depth and richness of her characterization, and her new work accomplishes even more in building real, beautiful and compelling human beings. This book will absorb you, and it will work its way deeply into your heart.
Brendan Fisher
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This novel is a must-read! I didn't think it was possible, but I loved 'If You Want to Make God Laugh' more than I loved 'Hum If You Don't Know The Words'. It was so captivating that I couldn't put this book down! It is both heart-breaking and heart warming. Rarely can a book bring me to tears and then give me a good chuckle a few pages later. Bianca Marais hits so many important issues and themes without it feeling forced and contrived all the while delivering a powerful and beautiful story of ...more
Toni
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"She knows too that there is no such things as curses; they're just self-inflicted prisons that only have power over us as long as we believe in them. Our luck is what we make of it and all we can ever do is make the most of the time we have."*

LAUGH follows the lives of three South African women, each running from their past and looking for peace. These three women's lives will eventually intersect and when they do, hold on because it is a wild ride.

Some authors can write entertaining stories a
...more
Andrea
May 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I read and loved Hum If You Don't Know the Words so was thrilled to be approved to read this title. Marais did not disappoint. 4.5 but rounding up as each time I put this compelling book down, I could not wait to pick it up again. My only criticism is that this book was chock full of--everything. No spoiler from me, but I wonder if one particular thread were removed, would it have been any less powerful or enjoyable or altered the storyline too much?

To name a few: Racism. Poverty. Rape. AIDS. H
...more
Andrea
May 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I read and loved Hum If You Don't Know the Words so was thrilled to be approved to read this title. Marais did not disappoint. 4.5 but rounding up as each time I put this compelling book down, I could not wait to pick it up again. My only criticism is that this book was chock full of--everything. No spoiler from me, but I wonder if one particular thread were removed, would it have been any less powerful or enjoyable or altered
...more
Kevin Kilmartin
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I imagine that an author faces an unbelievable amount of pressure to live up to the hype surrounding their first novel. Marais’ first, ‘Hum if You Don’t Know the Words’, was an exceptional novel for a debut and I was anxiously awaiting to see how she tackled her second book. I am thrilled to say that she nailed it. I was riveted from start to finish. I cried (a lot), laughed (a little) and cared (enormously)for each of the protagonists. Written with compassion and sensitivity, Bianca doesn’t shy ...more
Davi
Amazing - I think this should be required reading for everyone! I finished 2 days ago and it is still on my mind. “If You Want...” takes a time and culture that (at least in American education) doesn’t get talked about other than in the vaguest of terms and makes its personal and human. Though the story and characters may have been fictional, Bianca Maris has grounded them in her obvious dedication and respect for the people for whom this was not fiction. The themes and topics that this book cov ...more
Caroline (readtotheend on IG)
Bianca Marais is a masterful storyteller. Her characters are rich, their stories are rich and it's wonderfully pulled together to make for an amazing reading experience. I loved Hum if You Don't Know the Words and and I loved this book as well - Bianca has a way of transporting you into the world that she writes about because the descriptions are so vivid - detailed and complete. I loved seeing how Zodwa, Ruth, and Delilah became interconnected and linked. With multiple perspective books it can ...more
Stephanie
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC.

Bianca Marais has a beautiful way of building relationships between unlikely characters. I have loved both her books, the characters, the pacing, etc. She is definitely an "auto-buy" author for me.

Highly recommend her novels!
Polly-Alida
Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A fascinating story, wonderfully written. I loved Ms Marais's debut novel, Hum if You Don't Know the Words, and like many other readers I wanted to know more about what happened to the characters in Hum, and wondered if I'd be as engaged with another set of characters in a different time period. I was not disappointed! The 3 women who are the main characters in this novel grabbed my attention immediately and I devoured the book. Towards the end, I slowed down, I didn't want it to end. And yes, y ...more
Jackie Robins
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am a huge fan of Bianca Marais after reading her first book Hum if You Don’t Know the Words. So, I had very high hopes for this book. I was not disappointed at all! Ms Marais has done it again with If You Want to Make God Laugh. I absolutely loved it. This beautiful and poignant book follows three woman in South Africa in the 90s. I loved the three distinct voices of these strong women. I never had to look back to see whose perspective I was reading. The characters propel the story with their ...more
Portia
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Bianca Marais has knocked it out of the park again with her new novel If You Want to Make God Laugh. Taking place in South Africa from the day Nelson Mandela is elected onward, following three very different women as they deal with the changing world around them. Race and class are explored, as well as tensions that came from the ending of apartheid. The characters are strong, powerful women and I rooted for them on each and every page. Marais left me picking up the pieces of my broken heart mul ...more
Victoria
Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: edelweiss, 5-star
Thanks to Edelweiss and GP Putnam’s Sons for sharing the ARC of this upcoming novel. I loved it. No surprise since I truly enjoyed Bianca Marais’ first novel as well. This is a moving story that I could not put down and it was educational as well. Highly recommend.
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Editor
  • Home for Erring and Outcast Girls
  • La Saison de l'ombre
  • Like Lions (Bull Mountain, #2)
  • Restless Souls
  • The Atlas of Reds and Blues
  • The Shadow Girl
  • Big Woods
  • Prince of Monkeys
  • Prague Spring
  • An Uninterrupted View of the Sky
  • Holy Lands
  • The Birds of Opulence
  • I Think You're Wrong (But I'm Listening): A Guide to Grace-Filled Political Conversations
  • Women Rowing North: Navigating Life’s Currents and Flourishing As We Age
  • Pure Land: A True Story of Three Lives, Three Cultures, and the Search for Heaven on  Earth
  • The Memory Stones
  • Only Ever Her
See similar books…
214 followers
Bianca Marais holds a Certificate in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies.

Before turning to writing, she started a corporate training company and volunteered with Cotlands, where she assisted care workers in Soweto with providing aid for HIV/AIDS orphans and their caregivers.

Originally from South Africa, she now resides in Toronto with her husband. She enj
...more