How many books have you and the President read in common? This Booklr Pick will make it at least one:
Published in 2004 by Farrar, Strauss and Giroux
GILEAD just might be one of the best contemporary novels to have slipped by you. And Marilynne Robinson just might be one of the most extraordinary contemporary authors that you’ve never heard of. You’d better amend this literary quandary, ASAP.
If you thought waiting nine years for Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Marriage Plot was excruciating, imagine how fans of Marilynne Robinson must have pined and pined … and pined. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson’s second novel, was published in 2004, nearly a quarter-century after her début novel Housekeeping. For those who hadn’t given up hope and all but forgotten about this extraordinary writer, Gilead proved entirely worth the wait and worthy of the Pulitzer.
In the year 1956, in the town of Gilead, Iowa, Reverend John Ames, a 76-year-old Congregational pastor, nears the end of his life and the conclusion of the autobiographical letter he is writing to his seven-year-old son. Although a fictional town, Gilead is based on the real town of Tabor, Iowa, a city that played an important role during the abolition movement as a key stop on the Underground Railroad. Through Ames’s memories, Robinson deftly weaves together American’s past and present, and individual human lives and the progress of humanity with prose that is at once humble and brave, and as spare and as spiritual as you may ever encounter.
Marilynne Summers Robinson is an American novelist and essayist who has written for Harper’s, The Paris Review, and The New York Times Book Review. She currently teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
“[Robinson’s] is a mind … in which silence is itself a quality, [and] the space around words may be full of noises.” —James Wood, NYTimes
I mean, basically he’s saying she’s a freaking magician. And she is.
President Obama lists Gilead as one of his favorite books, in the company of Shakespeare’s Tragedies, Lincoln’s Collected Writings, and The Bible.
It’s serious, people.