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J.A.A. Purves

Fourth Gilead Novel

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The Washington Post:
“Marilynne Robinson isn’t ready to leave Gilead yet. The celebrated writer surprised and delighted her fans Monday night when she revealed that she is considering a fourth novel in the series that has earned her a Pulitzer Prize and two National Book Critics Circle Awards.

Robinson was at Columbia University in New York for a reading and discussion about ‘Lila,’ the presumed final volume of her trilogy about a minister and his family in Gilead, Iowa. The evening included a public discussion with Rev. Robert Hardies, the senior minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C.

Alexander Chee, a former student of Robinson’s and a visiting writer at Columbia, introduced her and then sat down to enjoy her conversation with Hardies. Chee reported via email, ‘It was sometime during that conversation that she said, without any warning, ‘People should be prepared to say quartet instead of trilogy.’’

The crowd of about 150 people cheered.

‘She quickly clarified that she has had further thoughts about the characters,’ Chee reports, ‘and that she felt confident that a fourth novel was likely. She would not, however, offer any further details about it publicly. After a questioner said her mom wanted more from Jack Boughton, she laughed and said she got that a lot from people.’ ...”

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I'm almost finished with Lila.  I'd love a fourth Gilead novel, and almost forgot there were other Boughton children besides Jack and Glory.  What I'd love to read is the boy's story, sometime after John Aames has passed.

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Since we don't have a thread on Robinson's first novel (or do we?) I'll just put this here. Scott Esposito discusses Housekeeping:

 

I would be sympathetic to the argument that in due time she may be seen as a better essayist than a novelist (which is not to slight her fiction). Needless to say, it is rare to see a writer who can so deeply master the competing aesthetics of the two forms, and whose mind is supple enough for its thoughts to fit equally well in different containers.
 
Robinson is also noteworthy because she loves to stick up for unfashionable intellectuals. She is perhaps the leading (and maybe only?) living proponent of the thought of John Calvin. She is a forceful advocate for the American Transcendentalists. She writes compelling essays about obscure books that probably no one other than Marilynne Robinson has read, and she makes you feel that you must read them. More broadly, she is passionately religious at a time when few liberal intellectuals are. Her writing seems almost custom made to cut against the received ideas of our era, yet she destroys this common wisdom in a way that is as calm as it is forceful, profound, and nearly impossible to argue with. She deeply and energetically believes in the humanist tradition, the gifts of the Enlightenment, the place of wonder (true wonder) in the human experience, and the dignity of all people.

[snip]

One of the things I like best about Marilynne Robinson is that as a novelist she talks about an America that exists—or maybe existed—but that is very little-known. It is an America that is conversant with our deepest traditions, our important intellectuals, our artists, the political doctrines we have contributed to civilization, the unique rights and ideals we as a people hold dear—yet, it is also a part of the country that was not widely known even in its time (the 1920s and ’30s), that knew very little of the United States beyond its own parochial limits, and that is all but forgotten now. Somehow, this obscure part of America that Robinson writes about delves into some of the most core aspects of what makes America a nation—that is, those things that transcend the competing and often irreconcilable ideologies, interest groups, and ethnicities that always seem to be on the verge of tearing this nation apart. The people in Housekeeping’s rural village, Fingerbone, feel profoundly American, despite the fact that they are marginalized, even forgotten, and have very little commerce with anything we might recognize as historic or important about the period. They are American characters, expertly drawn by a master with the pen.
Edited by NBooth

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