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Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Gilead is set in Gilead, Iowa in 1956 with the minister, John Ames, facing death from heart disease. He has a young wife and son whom he loves deeply and decides to leave his son a family history. He tells of his grandfather, also named John Ames, a fire and brimstone preacher from back east who went to Kansas to fight for abolition and then went to fight in the Union Army during the Civil War. John Ames, his father, reacted strongly to his father's violence and became a pacifist preacher. The Ames household when all three generations lived together was one of an uneasy truce. As Ames realizes his time on earth is limited, a friend from earlier in his life who left in disgrace returns to visit. Ames' life had been a solitary one before the blessing of his cherished wife came late to him in life. As he watches his friend and wife begin to bond, he must decide whether to tell his wife of his friend's past. Marilynne Robinson (author of Housekeeping) has written a novel about fathers and sons, loneliness and love, faith and family and Gilead has received high praise. The Washington Post says Gilead is "so serenely beautiful, and written in a prose so gravely measured and thoughtful, that one feels touched with grace just to read it."
Winner of the 2004 National Book Critics Circle prize for fiction Winner of the 2005 Pulitzer prize for fiction