Books by Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson is the author of the modern classic Housekeeping (FSG, 1981)--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.

WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE? by Marilynne Robinson
Released: Feb. 20, 2018

"Sharp, elegant cultural analysis."
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for her novels, Robinson (The Givenness of Things: Essays, 2015, etc.) gathers trenchant essays about faith, values, and history, most delivered as lectures at religious institutions and universities from 2015 to 2017. Read full book review >
THE GIVENNESS OF THINGS by Marilynne Robinson
Released: Oct. 27, 2015

"Deeply thoughtful essays on troubling and divisive cultural—and spiritual—issues."
A sober, passionate defense of Christian faith. Read full book review >
LILA by Marilynne Robinson
Released: Oct. 7, 2014

"Fans of Robinson will wish the book were longer—and will surely look forward to the next."
More balm in Gilead as Robinson (When I Was a Child I Read Books, 2012, etc.) returns to familiar ground to continue the saga ofJohn Amesand his neighbors. Read full book review >
WHEN I WAS A CHILD I READ BOOKS by Marilynne Robinson
Released: March 20, 2012

"Articulate and learned descriptions and defenses of the author's Christian faith."
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist returns with a collection of essays that are variously literary, political and religious. Read full book review >
HOME by Marilynne Robinson
Released: Sept. 9, 2008

"Comes astonishingly close to matching its amazing predecessor in beauty and power."
A companion volume to Robinson's luminous, Pulitzer-winning novel Gilead (2004). Read full book review >
GILEAD by Marilynne Robinson
Released: Nov. 1, 2004

"Robinson has composed, with its cascading perfections of symbols, a novel as big as a nation, as quiet as thought, and moving as prayer. Matchless and towering."
The wait since 1981 and Housekeeping is over. Robinson returns with a second novel that, however quiet in tone and however delicate of step, will do no less than tell the story of America—and break your heart. Read full book review >
THE DEATH OF ADAM by Marilynne Robinson
Released: Sept. 14, 1998

The author of Housekeeping (1980) and Mother Country (1989) challenges the accepted views of Calvin, Darwin, and others to invigorate intellectual discourse and, by extension, change our days and minds. As with her earlier works, Robinson's essays are marked by her uneasiness with the workings of society and human consciousness. Here she attempts to counter people's disturbingly easy acceptance of the "prevailing view of things" by taking a "contrarian" approach that assumes any side—in fact, each—may be wrong. Her aim is not to ridicule but to provide alternatives: "Put aside what we know, and it will start to speak to us again," she says. Her essays on John Calvin revisit his contributions to modern government and religion, disputing Max Weber's views of Protestantism and uncovering the influence of Renaissance writer Marguerite de Navarre. With the Mencken-inspired title "Puritans and Prigs" she traces the "generalized disapproval" of Puritanism to today's self-congratulatory priggish eating of fish and correcting of offensive diction. The book's title refers to the consequence of Darwinism, that is, the usurpation of God and human impulses by hard-wiring. As with all good philosophical essays, these pieces do more than shape thinking. They—re about life as it's lived now. Like the 19th-century reformers she so appreciates in "McGuffey and the Abolitionists," the author wants to engender good faith. When what passes for social criticism these days is issue-bound journalism, and when intellectual debate is largely confined to ivy halls, Robinson's laboriously researched, inclusively presented opinions are welcome. They serve scholarship well, enlarging the audience for dialogue on broad questions of how to live. Her dogged textual dissections (e.g., of Lord Acton and other critics of Calvin) illuminate her readings; her epigrammatic observations (e.g., 'spiritual agoraphobes—) vividly capture our states of mind. Set aside Robinson's occasional sober prolixity and find a moral gauntlet. This is a book written in hope. Read full book review >
HOUSEKEEPING by Marilynne Robinson
Released: Jan. 14, 1980

Robinson's brooding first novel is perhaps fatally weighed down with excess myth-and-symbol pretensions, but it's often exhilaratingly imaginative—as narrator Ruth becomes a kind of spectral presence in the tale of her own childhood and early adolescence in a remote, flood-prone lakeside village in Idaho. The village is where Grandmother lives—the Grandmother who takes in little Ruth and sister Lucille when their mother abandons them, promises to return, then drives to her death in the lake: "She...broke the family and the sorrow was released...a thousand ways into the hills." But the family is held together for a while by Grandmother—whose husband also drowned in that lake when a fine fast train plunged off the bridge; whose three daughters all seemed to have flown off at one time; who cares for Ruth and Lucille well, as if "reliving a long day" with her own lamented daughters. And after Grandmother's death the girls are briefly tended by two aged, fearful relatives who gladly give them up to the care of Aunt Sylvie, one of Grandmother's missing daughters now miraculously returned. But Sylvie's a drifter attempting to housekeep—abstracted, gentle, given to wandering and eating meals in the dark—and Ruth is drawn to Sylvie's world of silences and quiet disappearances, with musings on the nature of loss when people perish and things remain: "The illusion of perimeters fails when families are separated." Lucille, on the other hand, maintains that "calm, horizontal look" of one who sees differences: she joins the "common persons" and leaves home. Finally, then, after Authorities plan to take Ruth away from her obviously unstable aunt, Ruth and Sylvie burn the house, hop the rails, and leave for a lifetime of wandering. A convoluted novel, obsessively striated with repetitive images of fluidity—flooding waters, blinking trains, the play of light and darkness, wisps of overheard tales—but if the poetry is over-stressed, the bottom-line talent in this highly promising debut is unmistakable. Read full book review >