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Gilead (Gilead #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  59,544 Ratings  ·  8,035 Reviews
Towards the end of Reverend Ames's life, he begins a letter to his son. Ames is troubled too by his prodigal namesake, Jack Boughton, his best friend's ne'er-do-well son, who seems to be a living contradiction of everything that Ames stands for.
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Published November 7th 2007 by Actes sud (first published October 28th 2004)
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مرجان محمدی Housekeeping has its own independant place among the other 3s, and it is for sure as beautiful as Gilead for its emotional narator telling us how the…moreHousekeeping has its own independant place among the other 3s, and it is for sure as beautiful as Gilead for its emotional narator telling us how the world can be seen, as Home for its picture of how sweet and secure a home can be, and as Lila for describing a woman wandering in the strange world of loneliness.
I prefer this picture for reading order: Home, Gilead, Lila. and Housekeeping can be anywhere among, before ot after them!(less)
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Greg
May 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It often feels as if the contemporary literary scene has internalized Anna Karenina’s dictum on the nature of happiness—that it is not idiosyncratic, with the implication that it is not worth the kind of careful attention that literature applies to its subjects. We need look no further than our own lives to recognize the problem we’ll encounter if we preoccupy ourselves with the Tolstoyan “unhappy family” at the expense of the happy ones. Asked about our defining or most enlightening moments, mo ...more
Jessica
Oct 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: heathens
This book is amazing. I can't believe those frikkin twits didn't give Marilynne Robinson the Pulitzer for this..... oh wait, they did. Well, I can't believe they didn't give her two!

Seriously, you are probably thinking, "I've heard this book takes the form of an elderly, angina-stricken preacher in Iowa's long, Lord-laden letter to his young son about how beautiful the world is. I'm sure it's all very nice for some people, but I am way too big of a jerk to enjoy something like that."

Well, let me
...more
William1
Jul 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, us, 21-ce
This novel reminds me—with its beautifully spare prose and the bleak stoicism of its characters—of three books: Per Petterson's Out Stealing Horses, Willa Cather's My Ántonia and Martin Amis's House of Meetings. This is not meant as a statement of influence, but simply one of kinship. The writing in all of these novels is conversational in tone and beautifully compressed, which is enormously hard to do, though it appears easy.

Gilead is the story of a Protestant pastor, the Reverent Ames, who, i
...more
Elyse
Aug 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Utterly absorbing...just finished it!!!
Unbearably moving!
At the beginning- I fantasized such a letter from my own father.
As a child I use to look up at the sky and wonder where he was - and yes-- talk to him
- and imagine him talking to me.
There are sentences that I read several times - the ones I thought about when walking - between reading sessions.
"I saw a full moon rising just as the sun was going down. Each of them standing on its edge, with the most wonderful light between them. It see
...more
Michael Finocchiaro
A beautiful book of great wisdom and tenderness. Melancholy, but hopeful. It well-deserved the Pulitzer for Fiction in 2005, and surprisingly Marilynne's second book written 24 years after her first, Housekeeping (which I have also reviewed here on GR).
In Gilead, Iowa, Rev John Ames is a 76yo preacher married to a much younger woman with whom he has a 7yo son. The time is the 50s and Rev writes this book to his son regretting that he will soon be dead while his son is still a child, so he wante
...more
Jason
Jun 10, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My 4 year old son is going to die...sometime in the future, like me--wishfully long after me--and we'll have no more time to talk. We should hopefully grow old together, but we'll grow old together as men. Yes, we'll always be father and son, but for the most part when we talk and share, he will be a man. What should I tell him now, as a boy? He's too young to remember, but I have so many things I want to say, to teach, to protect... There are things I want to tell him that are important now, th ...more
J
Apr 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a review. I wrote something that aspired to be a review but fell short. In the end all you really need to know is that I loved it. I finished it standing in line at the grocery with tears running down my face because it was that beautiful. It’s the ruminations of a man at the end of his life, it’s confession, it’s revelation, it’s a parable in a parable. It’s hopeful. Read it.

I found this quote written on a scrap of something in my purse. "I know more than I know and must learn it fr
...more
brian
Jan 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to brian by: DFJ
paul schrader called his book on the films of bresson, ozu, and dreyer transcendental style in film. sorry, mr. schrader, for reducing your book and theory to a one-liner, but the transcendental style goes something like this: the intentional evenness and flatness (both visually and dramatically) of these films work to create a ‘lifting’ or revelation at the end, such as one may receive after hours of intense prayer, study, or meditation.

as much as a book can fit within this category, i think G
...more
Kj
Dear Son:
The Too-Little-Too-Late Dilemma of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead

It’s deceptively tempting to approach a book like Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, and see only the main character’s theological musings. After all, in a novel about an old man reminiscing about faith and family, there’s a plethora of weighty spiritual content; everything from careful exegesis of Genesis 22 to references to Karl Barth’s Epistle to the Romans. Needless to say, this is no simple “I remember when…” fable of love an
...more
Sparrow
Aug 08, 2010 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sparrow by: Pulitzer
I believe the audio of this book is read by Santa Claus, so that is nice. Not nice enough for me to finish it, though. I tried the printed copy and the audio, and while I made it slightly farther in the audio, I just can’t do it. I think listening to this in the car creates a severe hazard because of the imminent danger of me falling asleep.

Having read Olive Kitteridge and this, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Pulitzer committee is looking for books about bumbling old people whose kids may
...more
Chaybyrd
I am devastated by how much I despised this novel. It was one of the most uninspired stories about Christianity, forgiveness and familial bonds I have ever read.

I can't help but wonder if this is the first plotless novel to win a Pulitzer. I'll be on the look out. The framework of the "story" is a dying minister writing in his diary presumably for his now 7 year old son to read after his death. The first person father writing to his son narrative was horrid. I felt like the entire book was one
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Gilead (Gilead #1), Marilynne Robinson
گفتگو با مرجان محمدی، مترجم رمانهای مریلین رابینسون
روزنامه جام جم: مریلین رابینسون از نویسندگان معاصر آمریکایی است. این نویسنده که از اعضای فرهنگستان هنر و دانش آمریکاست، در سال 2011 از طرف «دانشگاه آکسفورد»، کرسی سالانه «ازموند هارمزورت» در هنر و ادبیات آمریکایی در «دانشگاه بنیاد آمریکایی راترمر» را دریافت کرد. «رابینسون» که آثارش در ایران کمی گمنام است، نخستین رمان خود با عنوان «خانه داری» را سال 1980 منتشر، و جایزه «بنیاد همینگوی» را از آن خود کرد. ایشان
...more
Fabian
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Minister John Ames' insistence on leading a virtuous life becomes a pain in the neck. His personal and circular logic goes nowhere, and his daily ministrations, well, you really couldn't give less a care about. And this is truly awful folks. These are v. deep thoughts from father to son, directly from the death bed. & our main thought through this all becomes: Wow, dude's taking his awful sweet-ass time to die.
Violet wells
John Ames is a pastor in the forsaken town of Gilead. Ames, after losing his first wife and child to a difficult labour, has remarried late in life to a much younger woman and so at the ripe old age of seventy six has a very young son who he realises he will not see grow to manhood. So at the end of his life he is writing what he believes to be a kind of epistle to the beauty of God’s world for his young son. He is attempting to bestow grace on his son. He gives him advice – “I would advise you ...more
Sara
John Ames is old and he is dying. His wife is much younger than he is and he has a six year old son that he has no chance of seeing grown. In response, he begins a journal that reads like a long letter to be read someday in the future by his son. Ames is a preacher, and much of what he discusses is couched in terms of his religion and his beliefs, but what he is facing and has faced in life is so universal that even an atheist might relate.

As Ames details the closing days of his life, we see th
...more
Lynne King
I am so disappointed with this book. Having said that, I agree with all the reviews written about this highly acclaimed work stating, for example, that Gilead is a beautiful work – demanding, grave and lucid… Robinson’s words have a spiritual force that’s very rare in contemporary fiction - The New York Times Book Review.

So serenely beautiful, and written in a prose so gravely measured and thoughtful, that one feels touched with grace just to read it…A triumph of tone and imagination [and a]
...more
Paula
Jul 23, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ponderous. That's "Gilead" in a word. It's supposed to be the slow, insightful reflections of an old preacher writing a letter about his life to his son. Because, you see, the preacher is going to die soon. Actually, most of the book is so slow you feel like he's dying right then and there. Or at least, you wish he would drop dead, because then the book would be over. Keeling over might even be an improvement, since then something would happen.

My guess is that after twenty years of not writing,
...more
Maxwell
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-it, 2015
It's not often that I find a book that can hold my attention enough to read it in one day. Gilead is a book that I'm conflicted over having read so speedily, as I couldn't stop reading, while at the same time wanted to savor and absorb more slowly every thought and prayer and beautiful moment it held.

I understand the praise for this book. And I understand when people say that in fifty or one hundred years people will still be reading this book and finding something deeply human in it.

Gilead is
...more
Sandi
Forget your theology books and forget your "Christian Fiction". If you really want to get inside the head of someone with a deep, abiding faith in God, you must read "Gilead". Through the story of Rev. John Ames, Marilynne Robinson eloquently expresses so many of the ideas I have had about Christianity and state some difficult theological concepts in easy to understand words. And, she does it without ever getting cheesy or preachy. Reading this book is like floating in a pool on a warm summer da ...more
Lisa
Aug 05, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzer
The only positive thing I can say about this book is that it is well-written, from a formal standpoint. I hated the main character, an old whiny preacher who is writing down the story of his life for his young son.

This man incarnates everything I despise about religious blindness and righteousness. Even when the preacher tries to be honest, he always assumes that his absolute truth and morality can't be touched. He ultimately knows everything best, even though he might have made mistakes - some
...more
Jess ❈Harbinger of Blood-Soaked Rainbows❈

Read a book that won the Pulitzer Prize.

3.5 stars rounded up


Ok ya'll, this review is gonna get personal. It's the only review I think I can write right now, and this book gives me the perfect platform to do it. If you have a problem with personal reviews, don't read it I don't give a damn.

There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, every one of them sufficient.


This was my book club's selection for May. I've kind of been in a reading slump the past few months and just haven't been
...more
David
Aug 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to David by: Alisa
First of all, I have some disclaiming to do. I do not believe in God, not even in the most hazy, nondenominational sense of an impersonal 'force' that vouchsafes existence. I was raised Catholic (halfheartedly)—by which I mean that I was sent to Catholic school, but my parents were never demonstratively or actively Catholic. They only rarely attended church (precipitated, I think, by a sense of lapsed duty), they never prayed, to my knowledge, and they mostly refrained from any mention of gods o ...more
مرجان محمدی
Sep 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
دیشب به تو گفتم ممکن است روزی بروم، تو گفتی کجا، من گفتم پیش خدا، تو گفتی چرا، گفتم چون پیر شده ام، گفتی فکر نمی کنم پیر شده باشی و دستت را در دستم گذاشتی و گفتی، خیلی پیر نیستی

گیلیاد دومین رمان مریلین رابینسون است که در سال 2004 منتشر شد. این رمان در سال 2005 جایزه پولیتزر و کانون منتقدان کتاب ملی را از آن خود کرد. گیلیاد، نامه های کشیشی پیر است که در شهر کوچک گیلیاد در آیووا زندگی می کند و می داند که به زودی به علت بیماری قلبی خواهد مرد. او این نامه ها را برای پسرش می نویسد و در آن داستان زندگ
...more
Matthew Quann
May 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pulitzers
"…it seems to me now that what you must see here is just an old man struggling with the difficulty of understanding what it is he’s struggling with."

Gilead pg.202

I believe one of the most underappreciated reading venues is the waiting room. While sitting in an auto body waiting room, sipping on some mediocre complimentary coffee, and occasionally being interrupted by newcomers to the room, I read most of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead. The seat was pretty uncomfortable, there was an obnoxious real
...more
Inder
Oct 22, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Humanity
Recommended to Inder by: Elizabeth
Yes, I have now read this THREE times. That should really speak for itself.
___________________________

12/1/07 I've been thinking and thinking about this book, so I find myself coming back to this review.

The basic plot (such as it is - this is a character driven book in the most basic sense): An old preacher finds out that he is dying, and writes a journal/memoir to his seven year old son.

There are a couple of breathtaking scenes in the book, that have stuck with me. The narrator remembers a tim
...more
helen the bookowl
"Gilead" is one long letter from a father to his son. The father, John, is an old reverend approaching death. His son is only 7 years old as the letter is written, and therefore the letter becomes a writing of John's thoughts and worries that he feels like he needs to pass on to his son before he dies.
For some parts, this letter was really touching. It is written in a non-chronological way that puzzles you, and it comes with beautiful and heartfelt anecdotes on John's life, doubts, and worries
...more
Ron Charles
There is a balm in "Gilead," and I hope many people find it. For a country dazzled by literary and military pyrotechnics, this quiet new novel from Marilynne Robinson couldn't be less compatible with the times - or more essential.

Her narrator is a 77-year-old pastor in Gilead, Iowa, who's been told he has only a few months to live. That might sound depressing or boring, but from Robinson's pen, these pages flow with the intensity of a prayer, both anguished and assured. The whole novel is a lett
...more
Jan-Maat
With race again in the news from the USA (view spoiler) it seems worth while returning to Marilynne Robinson's book because beneath the gentle stream of consciousness ramblings of an elderly preacher who is approaching death something challenging hides.

Although set in 1956 the narrator's reflections flicker back and forth from the time of his grandfather - a pastor active in the aboliti
...more
Helle
Calvin says somewhere that each of us is an actor on a stage and God is the audience.

Gilead is a meditation on life, faith and fatherhood. It is the goodbye letter from a father to a son – a father who is 77 and whose son is only seven – and the father’s desire to leave some kind of legacy for his young son because he knows he won’t be there to see him grow up.

Looking back on his life, the Reverend John Ames remembers incidents small and big which have constituted his life. He reminisces about
...more
Duane
What you have here is a 76 year old minister from Iowa, writing a journal, or long letter, to his 7 year old son. Rev. Ames is dying, so he's afraid his son won't remember him, thus the letter. The Rev. comes from a long line of preachers, so the novel is religious in nature, but not overly so. It's really a story about family and family relationships, and time. There were some things I didn't like, some loose ends that are probably addressed in the sequels. But the writing is so good that it ca ...more
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7491
Her 1980 novel, Housekeeping, won a Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for best first novel and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

Her second novel, Gilead, was acclaimed by critics and received the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, the 2004 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, and the 2005 Ambassador Book Award.

Her third novel, Home, was published in 2008 and was nominated f
...more
More about Marilynne Robinson...

Other Books in the Series

Gilead (3 books)
  • Home (Gilead, #2)
  • Lila (Gilead, #3)
“This is an interesting planet. It deserves all the attention you can give it.” 1268 likes
“Sometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life.” 288 likes
More quotes…