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If You Want to Make God Laugh

4.92  ·  Rating details ·  49 ratings  ·  37 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
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Expected publication: July 16th 2019 by G.P. Putnam's Sons
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  • If You Want to Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais
    If You Want to Make God Laugh
    Release date: Jul 16, 2019
    Enter for your chance to win 1 of 100 advance reading copies of IF YOU WANT TO MAKE GOD LAUGH!

    From the author of the beloved Hum If You Don't Know th

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    Availability: 100 copies available, 17 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: May 21 - Jun 04, 2019

    Countries available: U.S.

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    Community Reviews

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    4.92  · 
    Rating details
     ·  49 ratings  ·  37 reviews

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    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
    Jennifer Blankfein
    Loved it so much! Photos for this review and other reviews and recommendations on

    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
    Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
    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.
    Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Nina Carboni
    Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    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.
    Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    May 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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.
    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  ·  review of another edition
    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
    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
    Mar 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    ‘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,
    Patrick Barry
    May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Kevin Kilmartin
    Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    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
    Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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!
    Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Feb 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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.
    Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    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
    Kristen Doyle
    Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I just finished this gem of a book. I thought it was going to be hard for the author to top her debut novel, Hum If You Don’t Know the Words, but she did it! I just love the way she builds characters you get completely attached to.
    If You Want to Make God Laugh is a heart filling and heart wrenching look at motherhood, discrimination, terrible trials, hope and redemption in post apartheid South Africa 🇿🇦.

    Bianca sent me an ARC but you can get it in July. In the meantime read Hum if you haven’t al
    Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: 5-star-books
    "If You Want To Make God Laugh” is the story of three women in South Africa whose lives intertwine in an awesome narrative that grabbed my your interest from the very beginning. The main storyline is about love, AIDS, secrets, heartbreak and the things mothers will do to protect their children. It also touches on the election of Mandela as president and the ending of apartheid. This is a terrific novel and a very moving story that I didn’t want to end. I highly recommend it! I was fortunate to r ...more
    Shannon A
    Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I’ve been a fan of Marais from her debut, her prose is powerful, beautiful & mesmerizes. Her characters face the hard topics and times of South Africa with grace, quick-wit and laughter. I loved every moment of this unforgettable story of facing the past, love, and family.

    Interesting that this book brings to light something that is making the news now.
    Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: 2019-books
    Another beautiful story from Bianca with unforgettable characters that will tear at your heart. You can't help but get caught up in the stories of three very different women, Ruth, Delilah and Zodwa and how they deal with love and loss set against the backdrop of South Africa. When I finally had time in my schedule for a chunk of time for reading, I blazed through the book unable to put it down. As I felt after reading Hum If You Don't Know the Words, finishing If You Want to Make God Laugh made ...more
    This is the second book I have read by this author, and have loved reading each one. She brings together some of the turbulent times in Africa, by the means of fascinating characters and times in history. She is a wonderful story teller, who draws from life experiences and sometimes drawing from true characters to develop some of her characters.
    This book is mainly about 3 different women who end up living together, Zodwa, Ruth and Delilah. Ruth and Delilah are sister who have been estranged for
    Abby Suzanne
    Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    I loved this book, and Bianca Marais is now officially one of my always buy authors. I read If You Want to Make God Laugh in two days and probably would've read it in one if I didn't need to wake up early. I love books told from multiple perspectives, and I think each of the narrators in this book was interesting and easily distinguishable from one another. I loved Delilah, and the slow revelation of her story. I also loved the parallels and contrasts between Delilah and Zodwa. I loved Ruth's sl ...more
    Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
    Shelves: 2019
    Oh this book! Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais was one of my favorite books of 2017. When I found out she had a second book coming out, I was at once excited and nervous (what if it doesn’t live up to my huge expectations??). Well, do not fear reader, If You Want to Make God Laugh is everything you wanted and more! In it, Bianca delivers a cast of characters that will stay with you a long time: Ruth, Delilah and Zodwa. The story tackles topics such as mothers and daughters, siste ...more
    Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Thank you NetGalley and Penguin Group for allowing me to read this book for my honest opinion.
    The story is about three women residing in Johannesburg, South Africa. Their lives are linked together because of an infant baby. This infant belongs to a 17 year old named Zodwa.
    Zodwa lives in a squatter camp and is in desperate poverty. Her entire surroundings are in the midst of the HIV epidemic. She has secrets that she is protecting.
    There is no way that you can't involve your heart in this story.
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    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