The Son of Laughter (1993)

Winner of the Critics’ Choice Book Award for Fiction, 1994

Book Description

Rich in family drama, passion, and human affinity, critically acclaimed author Frederick Buechner's contemporary retelling of this captivating and timeless biblical saga revitalizes the ancient story of Jacob, delights our senses and modern sensibilities, and graces us with his exceptional eloquence and wit. “The Son of Laughter becomes yet another of Buechner's novels to wear the label ‘masterpiece’” (Auchincloss). In The Book of Buechner, Dale Brown says: "But the remarkable success of the novel has more to do, I think, with the increasing clarity of Buechner's themes, his way of keeping the paradoxes in order—natural versus supernatural, guilt versus forgiveness, doubt versus faith—and the way in which his characters and their questions are like his readers and their questions."


“Buechner has taken the grand story of Jacob—breathed life into it and set its vivid people in motion...writing that sounds as though the writer is holding onto a lightning bolt.”
— Annie Dillard

“The Bible’s account of Jacob is a pungent seed found in a tomb. Frederick Buechner has planted it and the result is this beautiful swaying tree of a book.”
— James Merrill

“This is an extraordinary novel that demonstrates both the truth of fiction and Buechner’s superb ability to offer it.”
Christian Century

“A masterpiece.”
National Catholic Reporter

“In The Sacred Journey, Buechner tells us that we must learn to hear in our lives the sound of the holy. ‘It is the function of all great preaching,’ he writes, ‘and of all great art, to sharpen our hearing to precisely that end.’ The Son of Laughter will not only help one hear that sound; it is that sound."
— Brooke Horvath, Review of Contemporary Fiction

“Beautifully presented. The novel is rich with sensory description.”
Library Journal