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Gilead: A Novel Paperback – January 10, 2006
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“At a moment in cultural history dominated by the shallow, the superficial, the quick fix, Marilynne Robinson is a miraculous anomaly: a writer who thoughtfully, carefully, and tenaciously explores some of the deepest questions confronting the human species. . . . Poignant, absorbing, lyrical...Robinson manages to convey the miracle of existence itself.” ―Merle Rubin, Los Angeles Times Book Review
“Incandescent . . . magnificent . . . [a] literary miracle.” ―Lisa Schwarzbaum, Entertainment Weekly (A)
“Rapturous . . . astonishing . . . Gilead is an inspired work from a writer whose sensibility seems steeped in holy fire.” ―Lisa Shea, Elle
“Lyrical and meditative . . . potently contemplative.” ―Michele Orecklin, Time
“Perfect.” ―Jeremy Jackson, People(four stars)
“Major.” ―Philip Connors, Newsday
“You must read this book. . . . Altogether unlike any other work of fiction, it has sprung forth more than twenty years after Housekeeping with what I can only call amazing grace.” ―Anne Hulbert, Slate
“So serenely beautiful and written in a prose so gravely measured and thoughtful, that one feels touched with grace just to read it.” ―Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
“There are passages here of such profound, hard-won wisdom and spiritual insight that they make your own life seem richer. . . . Gilead [is] a quiet, deep celebration of life that you must not miss.” ―Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor
“Gilead is a refuge for readers longing for that increasingly rare work of fiction, one that explores big ideas while telling a good story. As John Ames might point out, it's a remarkable thing to consider.” ―Olivia Boler, San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
Marilynne Robinson is the author of the modern classic Housekeeping--winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award--and two books of nonfiction, Mother Country (FSG, 1989) and The Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.
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The second time I picked it up, I read it with the "Close Reads" podcast as part of their book discussion. Motivated to actually finish the book this time, I read through the slow beginning and found that I really did enjoy this book.
I think I need to re-read it as the meandering diary form, while beautiful prose, kept me from fully putting all the pieces together. Now that I can "see the whole" I think I'll likely enjoy the book even more.
I will not do justice to the mastery of Robinson's prose by overly describing it. But I rank this highly as a story of grace, of Christians who are also humans, and of rich theological discourse in everyday language. One last note: as a Calvinist, I took great joy in this depiction of a preacher who is not a fatalist and also quotes Calvin and Barth.