An artful and gripping new novel that recounts the human and environmental damage caused by actual disasters in Simi Valley, California
In award-winning legal scholar and novelist Yxta Maya Murray’s new novel, federal agent Reyna Rodriguez reports on a real-life nuclear reactor meltdown and accidents that occurred in 1959, 1964, and 1968 at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. An infamous research and development complex in California’s Simi Valley, the lab was eventually dismantled by the US government—but not before it created a toxic legacy of contamination and numerous cancer clusters. Toxins and nuclear residue may have been further released by the 2018 Woolsey Fire and 2019 floods in the area.
God Went Like That takes the form of an EPA report in which Reyna presents riveting interviews with individuals affected by the disasters. With imagination and artistry, Murray brings to life an actual 2011 Department of Energy dossier that detailed the catastrophes and the ensuing public health fallout and highlights the high costs of governmental malfeasance and environmental racism.
About the Author
YXTA MAYA MURRAY is a novelist, art critic, playwright, and law professor. Her most recent books are the story collection The World Doesn’t Work That Way, but It Could, and the novel Art Is Everything. She has won a Whiting Award and an Art Writer’s Grant and has been named a fellow at the Huntington Library for her work on radionuclide contamination in Simi Valley, California.
“Yxta Maya Murray’s writing is a gift, and in God Went Like That she is at the height of her powers. This tale of Southern California’s long-hidden nuclear catastrophe is a deeply compassionate, intimate, and powerfully human work. With erudition, wit, wordplay, and an appropriate dose of outrage, Murray takes us on a dreamlike journey into lives turned upside down by the hubris of science. This is a beautiful and haunting book.” —Héctor Tobar, author of The Last Great Road Bum
“A noted legal scholar and an accomplished novelist, Yxta Maya Murray has perfected a kind of writing that combines innovative fiction with challenging social analysis and searing political comment. This new book will tear the lid off a political and technological catastrophe that is as important to the history of Los Angeles as the water wars that were the source of Chinatown.” —Michael North, author of What Is the Present?
“Murray shines with this ambitious project.” —Publishers Weekly
“But beyond the rich literary dimensions through which Murray makes her text work and play, God Went Like That also accomplishes much through the array of disciplines and discourses that thread through it. ” —Los Angeles Review of Books