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Home
MARILYNNE ROBINSON

Home by Marilynne Robinson
313 reviews (2008) (336p)
National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction Finalist
National Book Award Finalist
LA Times Book Prize for Fiction
Amazon.com Best Books

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Book Description
Hundreds of thousands were enthralled by the luminous voice of John Ames in Gilead, Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer Prize–winning novel. Home is an entirely independent, deeply affecting novel that takes place concurrently in the same locale, this time in the household of Reverend Robert Boughton, Ames's closest friend.
 
Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jack—the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years—comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with tormenting trouble and pain.
 
Jack is one of the great characters in recent literature. A bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, he is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton's most beloved child. Brilliant, lovable, and wayward, Jack forges an intense bond with Glory and engages painfully with Ames, his godfather and namesake.
 
Home is a moving and healing book about families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations, about love and death and faith. It is Robinson's greatest work, an unforgettable embodiment of the deepest and most universal emotions.
Marilynne Robinson is the author of the novels Gilead—winner of the Pulitzer Prize—and Housekeeping, and Home and two books of nonfiction, Mother Country and The Death of Adam. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.
Winner of the Orange Prize
A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A National Book Award Finalist
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
Winner of the Christianity Today Book Award
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book
A Los Angeles Times Favorite Book of the Year
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Best Book of the Year
A Seattle Times Best Book of the Year
A Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year
A Library Journal Best Book of the Year

Marilynne Robinson returns to the small town in Iowa where her Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, Gilead, was set. Home is an entirely independent novel that is set concurrently in the same locale, this time in the household of Reverend Robert Boughton, Ames's closest friend.
 
Glory Boughton, aged thirty-eight, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Soon her brother, Jack—the prodigal son of the family, gone for twenty years—comes home too, looking for refuge and trying to make peace with a past littered with ongoing trouble and pain.
 
Jack, a bad boy from childhood, an alcoholic who cannot hold a job, is perpetually at odds with his surroundings and with his traditionalist father, though he remains Boughton's most beloved child. Brilliant, lovable, and wayward, Jack forges an intense bond with Glory and engages painfully with Ames, his godfather and namesake.  Their story is one of families, family secrets, and the passing of the generations, about love, death, faith, and healing.
"It is a book unsparing in its acknowledgement of sin and unstinting in its belief in the possibility of grave.  It is at once hard and forgiving, bitter and joyful, fanatical and serene.  It is a wild, eccentric radical work of literature that grows out of the broadest, most fertile, most familiar native literary tradition.  What a strange old book it is."—The New York Times Book Review

"Home is a companion piece to Gilead, an account of the same time (the summer of 1956), in the same place (Gilead, Iowa), with the same cast of characters as the earlier novel. Each book is strengthened and deepened by a reading of the other . . . The two books, different in their form and approach as well as in the details they reveal and the stories they ultimately tell, are an enactment of humanity's broader dance of ever-attempted, ever-failing communication—through a glass darkly. This is not, of itself, a novel endeavor for the novel (Edith Wharton once wrote, with lyrical concise wit, 'I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story'); rather it is the gravitas and patience with which Robinson, whose 1998 book of essays The Death of Adam revealed her rigorous Christian spiritual inquiry, has, in these two novels, channeled that rigor in fictional form; the result is two works of art of impressively unfashionable seriousness and engagement . . . Robinson, throughout Home, is tackling almost the opposite of what she undertook in Gilead: rather than granting a direct and illuminated voice to a single, thoughtful soul, she stands back—writing in the third person, albeit in a third person that privileges Glory's point of view—and allows her characters to perform their small daily rituals, to have their conversations, to live through their misunderstandings, each in his or her particular isolation. Crucially, she allows at least very distinct experiences—that of the devout, to which John Ames, Robert Boughton, and even Glory could be said to belong; and Jack's secular universe—to interact with one another, each with its own language and its own jurisprudence . . . What is remarkable about Home—and why it is, to this reader, an even stronger accomplishment than its companion volume; not in spite of its longueurs and its repetitiveness but because of them—is that it is both a spiritual and a mundane accounting."—Claire Messud, The New York Review of Books

"Home is a book full of doubleness and paradox, at once serene and volcanic, ruthless and forgiving. It is an anguished pastoral, a tableau of decency and compassion that is also an angry and devastating indictment of moral cowardice and unrepentant, unacknowledged sin. It would be inaccurate to say that the novel represents yet another breathless exposé of religious hypocrisy, or a further excavation of the dark secrets that supposedly lurk beneath the placid surface of small-town life. When Robinson writes that 'complacency was consistent with the customs and manners of Presbyterian Gilead and was therefore assumed to be justified in every case,' she is not scoring an easy, sarcastic point. There is real kindness and generosity in the town, and its theological disposition is accordingly tolerant and charitable . . . Readers who come to Home after Gilead will know that during his 20-year exile Jack met a black woman and had a child with her. His return to Gilead is in part a reconnaissance mission, an attempt to discover if the town might be a suitable home for a mixed-race family. In 1956, there are 'no colored people in Gilead,' but it has not always been that way. They left after their church was burned, even though Ames remembers the arson as 'a little nuisance fire' that happened long ago. And Ames's 'shabby old town' is a place where a black family is afraid to be out on the road when the sun goes down. These ugly facts complicate the beauty of Home, but the way Robinson embeds them in the novel is part of what makes it so beautiful. It is a book unsparing in its acknowl


Amazon.com Review
Amazon Best of the Month, September 2008: "What does it mean to come home?" In one way or another, every character in Home is searching for that answer. Glory Boughton, now 38 and lovelorn, has returned to Gilead to care for her dying father. Her wayward brother Jack also finds his way back, though his is an uneasy homecoming, reverberating with the scandal that drove him away twenty years earlier. Glory and Jack unravel their stories slowly, speaking to each other more in movements than in words--a careful glance here, a chair pulled out from the table there--against a domestic backdrop so richly imagined you may be fooled into believing their house is your own. Meanwhile, their father, whose ebullient love for his children is a welcome counterpoint to Glory and Jack's conflicted emotions, experiences his own kind of reckoning as he yearns to understand his troubled son. There is a simplicity to this story that belies the complexity of its characters--they are bound together by a profound capacity for love and by an equally powerful sense of private conviction that tries the ties that bind, but never breaks them. It's a delicate sort of tension that you think would resist exposition--and in fact these characters seem to want nothing more than, as Glory says, to treat "one another's deceptions like truth"--but Marilynne Robinson's fine, tender prose imbues this family's secrets with an overwhelming grace. --Anne Bartholomew


Other Award Winning Books by Marilynne Robinson
Lila by Marilynne Robinson
1064 reviews (2014) (272p) (Amazon Top100) (NYT100) (PW Fiction) (Econ) (MK Top) (NBCCA) (NBA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
975 reviews (2004) (256p) (PP) (NBCCA) (PF) (NYTimes) (LATimes) (TIME) (Amazon) (ALA)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page
Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
180 reviews (1981) (224p) (PP) (PF) (NYTimes)
Read Reviews | Visit this book's Amazon.com page

Marilynne Robinson Award Stats
Major Prize* Nominations 10  
Unique Books Nominated for a Major Prize* 4  
Pulitzer Prize Wins 1 Gilead ·  
Pulitzer Prize Nominations 2 Gilead · Housekeeping ·  
National Book Critics Circle Award Wins 2 Gilead · Lila ·  
National Book Critics Circle Award Nominations 3 Gilead · Home · Lila ·  
National Book Award Wins 0  
National Book Award Nominations 2 Home · Lila ·  
Man Booker Prize Wins 0  
Man Booker Prize Nominations 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Wins 0  
PEN/Faulkner Award Nominations 2 Gilead · Housekeeping ·  

*Major Prize = Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, National Book Award, Man Booker Prize, and PEN/Faulkner Award

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Pulitzer Prize | National Book Critics Circle Award | National Book Award | PEN/Faulkner Award | Man Booker Prize | Contact