Marilynne Robinson has never let the pressures of the publishing industry rush her to write her books. In fact, 23 years separate her first novel, "Housekeeping," from her novel "Gilead," which received the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Here's what our reviewer, Merle Rubin, wrote in The Times in December 2004 about "Gilead," which presents the autobiography of an elderly pastor living in a small Iowa town:
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. A consummate artist, a scrupulous scholar, a believing Christian and a genuinely radical thinker, Robinson approaches whatever she undertakes with the kind of gravitas one seldom encounters today. In place of the buzzwords and half-baked ideas that pass for conventional wisdom, she offers something truly unconventional and certainly much closer to wisdom.
…At first blush, the rambling meditations of a small-town Midwestern preacher may sound about as enticing a reading experience as "Forty Years an Ohio Physician," the fictitious manuscript pressed upon Sheridan Whiteside in "The Man Who Came to Dinner." But "Gilead" is a wonderfully readable book — moving, compelling and fascinating in any number of ways. First and foremost, in John Ames, Robinson has created a marvelously real, thinking, feeling character. Even before his character unfolds, his situation piques our curiosity: How, we wonder, did this pious old man come to marry a much younger woman and father a child at the rather advanced age of 69? How do his religious beliefs help him face his own mortality? All this and more is revealed.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times