Lying Awake

Lying Awake Study Guide

Mark Salzman's book Lying Awake won critical acclaim upon publication in 2000. Salon Magazine marveled that a successful agnostic at home amidst the cultural elite could write a book like Lying Awake, especially after struggling for six labor-intensive years to craft it. Once Salzman realized what made him similar to Sister John--his faith in writing, which often verges on the sacrificial and the illusory--he wrote the book in five weeks. In an interview with Salon (see Links section of this guide), he explains that he went to Carmelite monasteries and met with nuns for research in order to be able to write as convincingly and movingly as he did. The book, accordingly, is very different from his other popular works, which tend to be somewhat or completely autobiographical. The New York Post also lavishes praise on Salzman: “'Lying Awake' showcases an almost ethereal talent, one that can handle complex ideas with a touch lighter than air."

"[There] is art enough here," says the New York Times. "And there is something else: a rare willingness to engage faith on its own ground, to find in it a value that transcends the agnostic shrug and the therapeutic pieties of New Age shills."