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If You Want to Make God Laugh

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4.36  ·  Rating details ·  2,426 ratings  ·  544 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 poverty
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Hardcover, 432 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
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Bianca Hi there Barbara,

I hope you won't mind me answering this one personally.

My nickname for my husband is 'Poodle' - I got it from Karen Walker in Will &…more
Hi there Barbara,

I hope you won't mind me answering this one personally.

My nickname for my husband is 'Poodle' - I got it from Karen Walker in Will & Grace who calls Jack 'Poodle'.

As for the rest... when I started the novel;, Jezebel had a litter of puppies, two of whom were named Sodom and Gomorrah by Ruth. As the novel developed, I no longer had space for the puppies' story and so I unfortunately had to take them out. My husband was very upset by this development because he'd become most attached to Sodom and Gomorrah. After that, he told friends of ours that I'd killed the puppies, which I violently objected to. I did not kill them (and would never ever kill an animal in a novel); I just made them 'unborn'. LOL.

Also, my husband chooses a word for every novel that I write that I have to include in the story. In the first novel, it was 'orc' (from Lord of the Rings). In the second novel, it was the name 'Faloolah' (which is a nickname I've given to two very special friends). I manged to include both words in both novels.

Just a bit of fun.

Thank you for being interested enough to ask. (less)
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)

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BernLuvsBooks
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If You Want to Make God Laugh takes us on an emotional journey of love, loss, racial divide, civil unrest, injustice, family and motherhood.

All I can say is, WOW! These women captured me completely. This is a story full of both sorrow and heart. The vulnerability of these women will tug at your heartstrings. They suffer, endure loss after loss and still stand up strong - refusing to crumble and fold.

Bianca Marais doesn't shy away from big issues such as the stigma of HIV, racism, homophobia, r
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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
marilyn
Jul 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful, heartbreaking book, of three very different women, brought together because of need and the love of a little black baby. Two of those women are white sisters and the other woman is his mother, who had her baby snatched from her at birth, because her mother loved her so much and wanted the best for her daughter's baby.

The book takes place in the 1990s Johannesburg, in post-Apartheid South Africa, during the raging and misunderstood AIDs epidemic, and as Nelson Mandela begins hi
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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
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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.

(The five star review is meant to be a joke, by the way 😉)
Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I knew within the first couple of pages of If You Want to Make God Laugh I was reading something special. The writing instantly drew me in, as did the characters’ stories.

If You Want to Make God Laugh is the story of three strong women. When we meet Zodwa, she’s seventeen and pregnant, living in a squatter camp outside of Johannesburg. People were living in these camps to look for work and escape peril, only to find South Africa on the verge of a civil war and perhaps more poverty than from wher
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Jenna
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
难吃 GIF - ParksAndRecreation ParksAndRec AmyPoehler GIFs

WARNING!! This book has a massive overload of saccharine!

The comedienne Margaret Cho once quipped, "I have no maternal instinct. I am barren. I ovulate sand". I can relate. That is me. Sand in the ovaries. Give me a non-human baby and it awakens the mother in me. Show me a human baby and I want to swallow handfuls of birth control pills. Babies and me? Nope. Not happening. I initially thought I didn't like this book solely because there was too much oohing and aahing over a human baby. I though
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Katie B
Heartbreaking and beautiful. I've read the author's other book, Hum If You Don't Know the Words and with both books she does an excellent job at weaving historical facts into a story with complex characters dealing with heavy issues. While I enjoyed both books, I think this one is slightly better. If you haven't read anything by this author before, I strongly recommend giving her a try.

This is the story of three women living in post-Apartheid South Africa in the 1990s. Seventeen-year-old Zodwa h
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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
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Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

WARNING: HERE THAR BE SPOILERS

Take:

1. One aging, suicidal, infertile, almost divorcée;

2. One nun excommunicated from the Catholic Church decades ago (after being secretly raped and impregnated by the parish priest) whose baby was taken and raised by the sisters in the convent;

3. One currently pregnant girl (who also was a victim of rape);

4. One former maid and mother of pregnant girl who is currently dying;

5. One set of good intentions
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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
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Renee (itsbooktalk)
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I finished this book a couple of weeks ago and have been struggling to write a review...not because of the book which was a page turner and one of my favorites of the year but because I’ve basically been struck speechless by the quality of the writing and story. I’ve been a fan of Marais’s writing since enjoying Hum If You Don’t Know the Words but I truly think she’s outdone herself with this one. .
Set in post Apartheid South Africa, the story follows 3 very different women and alternates betwee
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Laura • lauralovestoread
“𝙸’𝚟𝚎 𝚓𝚞𝚜𝚝 𝚌𝚘𝚖𝚎 𝚝𝚘 𝚛𝚎𝚊𝚕𝚒𝚣𝚎 𝚖𝚘𝚛𝚎 𝚊𝚗𝚍 𝚖𝚘𝚛𝚎 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚝 𝚒𝚏 𝚢𝚘𝚞 𝚠𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚝𝚘 𝚖𝚊𝚔𝚎 𝙶𝚘𝚍 𝚕𝚊𝚞𝚐𝚑, 𝚝𝚎𝚕𝚕 𝚑𝚒𝚖 𝚢𝚘𝚞𝚛 𝚙𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚜. 𝙰𝚗𝚍 𝙸’𝚟𝚎 𝚗𝚎𝚟𝚎𝚛 𝚑𝚊𝚍 𝚖𝚘𝚛𝚎 𝚙𝚕𝚊𝚗𝚜 𝚝𝚑𝚊𝚗 𝙸 𝚑𝚊𝚟𝚎 𝚗𝚘𝚠.”

-𝙱𝚒𝚊𝚗𝚌𝚊 𝙼𝚊𝚛𝚊𝚒𝚜, 𝙸𝚏 𝚈𝚘𝚞 𝚆𝚊𝚗𝚝 𝚃𝚘 𝙼𝚊𝚔𝚎 𝙶𝚘𝚍 𝙻𝚊𝚞𝚐𝚑

I just went on the most emotional and wonderful journey while reading If You Want To Make God Laugh
and now I feel a book hangover coming on!

Set in South Africa during the 1990’s, where the HIV/AIDS epidemic is prevalent. Marais highlights different topics such as race, politics, sexual abuse, and the corrupti
...more
Chris Wolak
Jul 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: review-copy
I loved the characters in Bianca's first novel, Hum If You Don't Know the Words, so much that I wanted her to write a sequel. I'm so glad she didn't because then I wouldn't have met Zodwa, Ruth, and Delilah. Such fantastic characters and an amazing story. Painful to read at times but full of heart and hope. More thoughts here: https://chriswolak.com/2019/07/16/if-... ...more
Tania
Sep 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
As women, we're told our worth and our value, and the many ways in which we fall short of others' expectations; we're told why we're whores and why society can't tolerate whores. We're reminded of the ways we dishonor the unwritten contract we didn't know we signed on the day of our birth: a contract in which we agreed to toe the line and know our place simply because we are the fairer sex.

Gender based violence is currently getting a lot of attention in South Africa and rightly so. There has be
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Gregory Baird
Ugh. Let’s do this.

So I just finished a book and I absolutely hated it. I was tempted to give it two stars because technically, it’s fine. Like, the writing is fine. The characters are fine. And I can see how many people would read this book and enjoy it, but I found it annoying and at times even offensive. The more I think about it, the angrier I get. So one star it is.

Really quickly, this is the story of three women in South Africa in the mid-1990s. Apartheid has ended but there is still a lot
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Anne Bogel
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved this follow-up to Marais's stellar novel Hum If You Don't Know the Words.

The book tells the story of three women, two sisters, Ruth and Delilah, and the much younger Zodwa, whose lives become intertwined after the sisters discover an abandoned day-old baby on their doorstep. Each of the women is actively dealing with a personal crisis, and in rotating points of view, we learn each about each woman’s secrets and situation.

Readers, if you’re anything like me, you will need a tiny bit of
...more
Candie
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a heartfelt and emotional character driven book about three women and the secrets and events that connect them.

It deals with so many subjects such as grief, poverty, privilege, racism, motherhood, forgiveness and the connections and love between family that never goes away, no matter how long it's been since you've seen them or what might have been said/done.

The three separate points of view really showed how the same situation can be seen so differently depending on the person's past e
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Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Feb 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
I studied a lot of South African history during undergrad, and because I double-majored history with literature I was always on the lookout for for ways that the two disciplines intersected. What I found most compelling about this was how much it actively engaged with history and it’s legacy as an ongoing process - particularly that the “end” of apartheid wasn’t an end to many of the ongoing problems and harms that it had caused within the country. The deeply entrenched and systemic issues cause ...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
Michelle
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"As women, we're told our worth and our value, and the many ways in which we fall short of others' expectations; we're told why we're whores and why society can't tolerate whores. We're reminded of the ways we dishonor the unwritten contract we didn't know we signed on the day of our birth: a contract in which we agreed to toe the line and know our place simply because we are the fairer sex."


If You Want to Make God Laugh is about three women who ultimately defy these conventions and come to
...more
Laurie • The Baking Bookworm
Jul 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: laura, ehbooklover, margaret
I love it when an author comes along and unexpectedly blows my socks off. In 2017, Bianca Marais left me utterly sockless after I read her debut novel, Hum If You Don't Know The Words. It was a beautifully written story that tackled big topics with compelling characters, heart and compassion.

So, you can imagine how excited I was when I heard Marais had a new book coming out (Hint: I looost it!). So, did I love it just as much as Hum? Let's just say that Marais need not fear the dreaded 'sophomor
...more
Sonja Arlow
The author may be living in Canada now, but she has very deep roots in South Africa and it shines through her writing. She has so much love and understanding for this beautiful country I call home.

The dawn of the New South Africa in 1994 was euphoric but also a huge disillusionment for the poorest of the poor. Issues such as rape, HIV, ever present racism and cultural taboos are all explored but it is balanced out with unconditional love, forgiveness and acceptance.

I loved reading about all 3 wo
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Deb
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fate (or was it destiny) brought Bianca Marais to the Booktopia weekend 2 years ago as a last minute addition to the lineup. I wasn't familiar with her or her book Hum If You Don’t Know the Words. She was amazing and I fell in love with this book. I wanted more! I was so excited that a new book was coming out.
I immediately dove into If You Want to Make God Laugh as soon as I picked it up from the bookstore. I had to read at least part of it before attending Bianca's book event.
I could not put t
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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.
...more
Basic B's Guide
Nov 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
IF YOU WANT TO MAKE GOD LAUGH, tell him your plans... Like the women in this story this statement has rung so true for me. We struggled with infertility for almost 10 years before we were blessed with our twin boys. My mother was diagnosed with Glioblastoma and given 3 months to live in 2013 and sadly passed away just short of those 3 difficult months. In late 2016 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and while I’m now cancer free I’m still undergoing treatments and surgery to prevent it from comi ...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,
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Antoinette
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book begins just when Nelson Mandela is voted in, so post apartheid. But saying that apartheid is over doesn’t make it true! Racism for most Afrikaners is still as strong as ever. Much as this novel touches on what is happening in South Africa at that time (1993-94), it is not the main focus of the novel.
What is the focus are three women- Ruth, Delilah and Zodwa. All three are fighting their demons, but they all come together for one common cause- baby Mandla. We learn their back stories an
...more
Robin
Jul 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
So Bianca Marais, I put the blame squarely on you! Your book has kept me reading way too late at night, caused me to be late for or miss entirely appointments because I had to read 'just one more chapter'. Friends and family are waiting for me to return calls, texts, and emails, because I couldn't\wouldn't out the book down. Finally, I hold you responsible for all the crying, heartbreak, laughter, and joy I experienced reading your book.
Okay, I really thank you for the lives of three woman that
...more
Mark
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“As women, we're told our worth and our value, and the many ways in which we fall short of others' expectations; we're told why we're whores and why society can't tolerate whores. We're reminded of the ways we dishonor the unwritten contract we didn't know we signed on the day of our birth: a contract in which we agreed to toe the line and know our place simply because we are the fairer sex.”

“'Oh, please. Stop being a racist apologist. If you can't recognize blatant racism when you see it, then
...more
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Bianca Marais holds a Certificate in Creative Writing from the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies where she now teaches creative writing.

Before becoming an author, 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.

She champions the Own Voices movement in he
...more

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The young adult genre continues to lead literature in embracing new voices, championing all types of diversity, and, well, just really app...
81 likes · 37 comments
“As women, we're told our worth and our value, and the many ways in which we fall short of others' expectations; we're told why we're whores and why society can't tolerate whores. We're reminded of the ways we dishonor the unwritten contract we didn't know we signed on the day of our birth: a contract in which we agreed to toe the line and know our place simply because we are the fairer sex.” 3 likes
“The universe speaks in clues and signs, gentle nudges and hints, rather than pontifications and proverbs, commandments and condemnations. I have trusted its signs all my life, which is why I listened when it seemed like it wanted me back here.” 1 likes
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