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Marilynne Robinson’s Homecoming

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Marilynne Robinson published her first novel, Housekeeping, in 1980; it would be 24 years until her next one. In the meantime, she produced a critique of British nuclear-energy policy, and a collection of essays (The Death of Adam) that stands as a sturdy counterweight to the current wave of belligerent atheism. In Gilead, her Pulitzer Prize–winning return to fiction, she inhabited the austere voice of an aging Congregationalist pastor in 1956 Iowa. Now, a mere four years later, she returns to the town of Gilead with Home (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux; September 2). The two novels share a plot, but Home takes the perspective of Glory Boughton, the 38-year-old daughter of Gilead’s retired Presbyterian minister. Glory has moved home to care for her father and, as it turns out, for her alcoholic older brother, Jack, the long-lost prodigal son. As with Gilead, the action is tiny, a series of daily chores and conversations made heavy by the weight of the past and by Robinson’s near-miraculous attention to the intricate workings of conscience.


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