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Gilead A Novel

ISBN: 9780312424404 | 031242440X
Edition: Reprint
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Picador
Pub. Date: 1/10/2006

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Twenty-four years after her first novel,Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson returns with an intimate tale of three generations from the Civil War to the twentieth century: a story about fathers and sons and the spiritual battles that still rage at America's heart. Writing in the tradition of Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman, Marilynne Robinson's beautiful, spare, and spiritual prose allows "even the faithless reader to feel the possibility of transcendent order" (Slate). In the luminous and unforgettable voice of Congregationalist minister John Ames, Gilead reveals the human condition and the often unbearable beauty of an ordinary life. Marilynne Robinsonis the author of the modern classicHousekeepingwinner of the PEN/Hemingway Awardthe novelHome, and two books of nonfiction,Mother CountryandThe Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award Named One of the Ten Best Books byThe New York Times Book Review ANew York TimesNotable Book AChicago TribuneBest Book Short-listed for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing An American Library Association Notable Book of the Year In 1956, toward the end of Reverend John Ames's life, he begins a letter to his young son, an account of himself and his forebears. Ames is the son of an Iowa preacher and the grandson of a minister who, as a young man in Maine, saw a vision of Christ bound in chains and came west to Kansas to fight for abolition: He "preached men into the Civil War," then, at age fifty, became a chaplain in the Union Army, losing his right eye in battle. Reverend Ames writes to his son about the tension between his fatheran ardent pacifistand his grandfather, whose pistol and bloody shirts, concealed in an army blanket, may be relics from the fight between the abolitionists and those settlers who wanted to vote Kansas into the Union as a slave state. And he tells a story of the sacred bonds between fathers and sons, which are tested in his tender and strained relationship with his namesake, John Ames Boughton, his best friend's wayward son. This is also the tale of another remarkable visionnot a corporeal vision of God but the vision of life as a wondrously strange creation. It tells how wisdom was forge in Ames's soul during his solitary life, and how history lives through generations, pervasively present even when betrayed and forgotten. Gileadis the long-hoped-for second novel by one of our finest writers, a hymn of praise and lamentation to the God-haunted existence that Reverend Ames loves passionately, and from which he will soon part. "A beautiful workdemanding, grave, and lucid . . . Nowadays, when so many writers are acclaimed as great stylists, it's hard to make anyone notice when you praise a writer's prose. There is, however, something remarkable about the writing inGilead. It's not just a matter of writing well, although Robinson demonstrates that talent on every page . . . It isn't just the care with which Robinson can relax the style to a Midwestern colloquialism . . . [It's that] Robinson's words have a spiritual force that's very rare in contemporary fiction [and] as the novel progresses, its language becomes sparer, lovelier."James Wood,The New York Times Book Review(cover review) "[Gilead] has a note of the miraculous."Joan Acocella,The New York Review of Books "So serenely beautiful, and written in a prose so gravely measured and thoughtful, that one feels touched with grace just to read it.Gileadpossesses the quiet ineluctable perfection of Flaubert's 'A Simple H

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