Announcing the InsideCatholic Book Circle!

From July 14 – 18, InsideCatholic will be hosting our first online book discussion. Join participants Amy Welborn, Matthew Lickona, Joseph O’Brien and Bishop Daniel Flores in the conversation.

What is "Catholic" fiction? Is it simply fiction written by a Catholic? Must it include Catholic characters and treat distinctly Catholic themes? Does it reflect a "Catholic sensibility," being a product of the "sacramental imagination"? Ought the Catholic reader — or the general reader, for that matter — even bother with such questions?

These topics get chewed over a great deal in our circles, but all too often flit about in the realms of abstraction, unmoored by careful reference to any particular text. In that light, Matthew Lickona, Amy Welborn, Joseph O’Brien, and Bishop Daniel Flores decided to sit down with Exiles, the latest novel from Ron Hansen, to explore some of these questions.
The novel, which tells the story of Gerard Manley Hopkins and the writing of his poem "The Wreck of the Deutschland," has the peculiar virtue of having been written by a Catholic, about Catholics — real ones. It’s clear that Hansen doesn’t feel any obligation to portray Catholics in his stories — he is, of course, the man behind The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. But here, he has chosen a significant event in the history of Catholic literature as his subject — as good a place as any to begin a discussion about the state of modern Catholic fiction.
From Monday, July 14 to Friday, July 18, the group will correspond on this Website, sharing their thoughts about Exiles with one another and the readers of We strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of Exiles and join in the conversation (most of the InsideCatholic staff will be participating as well). Here’s a rare opportunity to discuss Catholic literature with both an informed panel and fellow Catholics around the world.
If you could use a little mental stimulation, join us in exploring the question, "Why would anyone want to read Catholic fiction?" We’re hoping that by the end of the week, we’ll be a little closer to an answer.
The participants:
  • Matthew Lickona is a staff writer for the San Diego Reader, a weekly newspaper. He is also the author of the 2005 memoir Swimming with Scapulars: True Confessions of a Young Catholic. He lives in La Mesa, California, with his wife and children.
  • Amy Welborn is a prolific and popular Catholic author and speaker who blogs at
  • Joseph O’Brien is a freelance writer who lives with his wife and their seven children on a rural homestead near Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin.
  • The Most Reverend Daniel E. Flores S.T.D. has been an auxiliary bishop of Detroit since 2006. A former professor of theology at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston, he likes to read, and to think and talk about what he reads.

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