The Pulitzer Prize For Fiction

2005 - Marilynne Robinson

Born: 26 November 1943; Sandpoint Idaho, USA

Awarded for: "Gilead"

Prize Motivation: "Marilynne is the recipient of a 2012 National Humanities Medal, awarded by President Barack Obama, for 'her grace and intelligence in writing'. She is the author of Gilead, winner of the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Home, winner of the Orange Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and a finalist for the National Book Award."

Field: Fiction


Books Written By Marilynne Robinson

About Marilynne Robinson

Marilynne Robinson was born and grew up in Sandpoint, Idaho, and did her undergraduate work at Pembroke College, the former women's college at Brown University, receiving her B.A., magna cum laude in 1966, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Washington in 1977. Robinson has written three highly acclaimed novels: Housekeeping (1980), Gilead (2004) and Home (2008). Housekeeping was a finalist for the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction (US), Gilead was awarded the 2005 Pulitzer, and Home received the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction (UK). Home is a companion to Gilead and focuses on the Boughton family during the same time period.

She is also the author of non-fiction works including Mother Country: Britain, the Welfare State, and Nuclear Pollution (1989), The Death of Adam: Essays on Modern Thought (1998), Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self (2010), and When I Was a Child I Read Books: Essays (2012). She has written articles, essays and reviews for Harper's, The Paris Review and The New York Times Book Review.

She has been writer-in-residence or visiting professor at many universities, including the University of Kent, Amherst, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst' MFA Program for Poets and Writers. In 2009, she held a Dwight H. Terry Lectureship at Yale University, giving a series of talks titled Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self. On April 19, 2010, she was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In May 2011, Robinson delivered Oxford University's annual Esmond Harmsworth Lecture in American Arts and Letters at the university's Rothermere American Institute. She currently teaches at the Iowa Writers' Workshop and lives in Iowa City. She was the keynote speaker for the Workshop's 75th anniversary celebration in June 2011. In 2012, Brown University awarded Robinson the degree of Doctor of Literature, honoris causa. On February 18, 2013, she was the speaker at the Easter Convocation of the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee and was awarded the degree of Doctor of Literature, honoris causa. Holy Cross College, Notre Dame, and Oxford University have also awarded Robinson honorary degrees.


Gilead - Marilynne Robinson

By Tracy L.

GILEAD is a book that has left me in a bit of a quandary. While I loved the book, I would be hesitant to recommend it to some since it does not conform to today's modern style of writing. This book is written without chapters, in a slowly paced style that requires readers to put themselves in the mindset of John Ames, a preacher in his mid-seventies who is nearing the end of his life. It is a journal of thoughts and memories that is being written to his son. There is no storyline, no plot to follow. It is purely an expression of love from a father to his son. If you are looking for suspenseful plot twists, wacky best friends or humorous scenarios, this is not the book for you. If you simply want to read a stunning work of art, I highly recommend it.

Gilead - Marilynne Robinson

By Eric Schenk

I considered Marilynne Robinson's first novel, "Housekeeping" to be one of the most beautifully written books I ever read and had hoped she would write another novel. However, when I learned that her new book was about the minister living in the middle of Iowa in the 1950's, I felt let down. I could not think of a setting in which I would have less interest. Nonetheless, I gave "Gilead" a try. I'm so glad I did. It is another example of what the English language is capable of. The prose is spare, as the subject demands. But it quickly becomes a meditation on how even the simplest life can be touched by grace and wonder. I am not a Christian. In fact, I am an atheist. But this book communicated to me the nurture that can be derived from heartfelt, clear minded, prosaic Christianity. Indeed I can't imagine a more spiritual text. I am not as young as I was when I read "Housekeeping" so I am not "swept away" by literature as I once was. But this lyrical book is on some subtle level, transforming. I understand why Ms. Robinson's quiet prose might not appeal to everyone. But this is truly a first rate work of fiction. I am a harsh critic, but I have no trouble giving this book five stars.