Ever since the 1981 publication of her stunning debut, Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson has built a sterling reputation as a writer of sharp, subtly moving prose, not only as a major American novelist (her second novel, Gilead, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize) but also as a rigorous thinker and incisive essayist. Her compelling and demanding collection The Death of Adam—in which she reflected on her Presbyterian upbringing, investigated the roots of Midwestern abolitionism, and mounted a memorable defense of Calvinism—is respected as a classic of the genre, praised by Doris Lessing as “a useful antidote to the increasingly crude and slogan-loving culture we inhabit.”
In When I Was a Child I Read Books, Robinson returns to and expands upon the themes that have preoccupied her work with renewed vigor. In "Austerity as Ideology", she tackles the global debt crisis, and the charged political and sociopolitical climate in this country that makes finding a solution to our financial troubles so challenging. In “Open Thy Hand Wide” she searches out the deeply embedded role of generosity in Christian faith. And in “When I Was a Child”, one of her most personal essays to date, an account of her childhood in Idaho becomes an exploration of individualism and the myth of the American West.
Clear-eyed and forceful as ever, Robinson demonstrates once again why she is regarded as one of our essential writers.
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Not all agile ad fans will love this.
- Pamela Dolan