In recent years, a new generation of Catholic novelists has appeared. Invoking the earlier tradition of Evelyn Waugh, Georges Bernanos and others, mainly in England, France and America, the contemporary authors include Christopher Beha, editor of the American cultural monthly, Harper’s Magazine; Randy Boyagoda, a Canadian novelist and biographer; and Martin Mosebach, a German novelist, poet and screen-writer.

The American author Trevor Merrill (pictured) has written a significant essay-length study of this new Catholic literature, The Situation of the Catholic Novelist. Published by Wiseblood Books, itself a new Catholic publisher in America, founded by Joshua Hren, his booklet focuses on the dilemma – and the opportunity – facing the present-day Catholic novelist, who has to deal with the cultural expulsion of religious faith by a new and aggressive secularism.

He draws on the insights of an earlier essay by the distinguished British writer, Piers Paul Read, “The Catholic Novelist in a Secular Society” (1997), and explores a range of works by modern Catholic novelists. They now find themselves stranded between two worlds – a fading post-religious culture of freedom from the imperatives of religious faith and a surging post-secular culture tormented by the emptiness of unbelief.

Trevor Merrill’s essay is available most readily from Amazon.