Marilynne Robinson
Photo: Dale Robbins/Moyers & Company

Marilynne Robinson


Marilynne Robinson is the author of the novels Home, Gilead, Housekeeping and Lila, as well as four books of nonfiction, When I Was a Child I Read Books, Mother Country, The Death of Adam and Absence of Mind. She teaches at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Housekeeping (1981), which won the PEN/Hemingway award for best first novel, is a coming of age story of two girls growing up in Idaho in the middle of the 20th century. After its success, Robinson focused on essay-writing for a variety of publications including Harper’s, The Paris Review and The New York Times Book Review. Many of these essays were later collected in the critically acclaimed anthology called The Death of Adam (1998).

Her second novel, Gilead (2004), won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Ambassador Book Award. Gilead takes the form of a letter from an aging preacher in Gilead, Iowa to his seven-year-old son. Written in simple and sparse prose, it is an uplifting meditation on life.

Robinson’s third novel, Home (2008), is a follow-up to Gilead. The book, a National Book Award finalist, focuses on ordinary Midwestern characters.

Some of those same characters appear in the newly published Lila (2014), which won the 2014 National Book Award. In it, Robinson tells the unforgettable story of a girlhood lived on the fringes of society in fear, awe and wonder.

(Bio excerpted from The Writing University).