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Marilynne Robinson - Gilead

28 minutes
First broadcast:
Sunday 07 October 2012

American writer Marilynne Robinson talks to James Naughtie and readers about her novel Gilead, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize.

Marilynne Robinson enjoyed great success with her first novel, Housekeeping, when it was published in 1980. She reveals to Bookclub why there was a gap of twenty-four years before she was able to write Gilead, her second book; and how the voice of the narrator came to her when she found herself alone in a hotel one Christmas.

Gilead is the autobiography of the Reverend John Ames, an elderly pastor in the small, secluded and fictional town of the same name, who knows he's dying of a heart condition.

Writing in the late 1950s, Ames tells his story in the form of a letter to his seven year old son, who will have few memories of him. And as well as revealing his fears about what will happen to his family when he's gone, the account traces the family's history back to the time when the prairies around Kansas and Iowa were being settled, through the Civil War and up to the civil rights movement of the mid-twentieth century.

The voice of John Ames captivates the Bookclub audience, and Marilynne discusses his life and work with themes relevant to her own - solitude and religious contemplation.

November's Bookclub choice : Skellig by David Almond

Producer : Dymphna Flynn.


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