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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 21, 2008

Marilynne Robinson reads from 'Home' on Nov. 3

University of Iowa Writers' Workshop faculty member Marilynne Robinson will read from "Home," the companion to her Pulitzer Prize-winning "Gilead," at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 3 in the Englert Theatre. Listen live via the University of Iowa Writing University Web site

The free event will be recorded for broadcast on Iowa Public Radio's "Live from Prairie Lights" series. Hour-long "Live from Prairie Lights" productions, hosted by WSUI's Julie Englander, air at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. Saturdays, and 7 p.m. Sundays on WSUI-AM 910 in Iowa City and WOI-AM 640 in Ames.

"Home," which is a finalist for the National Book Award, portrays other characters in the Iowa town of Gilead. Bob Thompson wrote in the Washington Post, "Set in precisely the same time and locale as 'Gilead,' it revisits characters the author found herself unwilling to give up. Yet it is not a sequel. With different people's stories moved to center stage, 'Home' manages to be both intertwined with its predecessor and a work that stands alone."

England's Salley Vickers wrote in the Independent, "There are very few novels written by living novelists that I wish I had written myself and Marilynne Robinson has written two of them. 'Gilead,' the extraordinarily beautiful, patient, scrupulous unfolding of the life of its elderly narrator, John Ames, a pastor in a small town in Iowa, was one. 'Home,' her latest, is even finer than its predecessor...

"The heart of this utterly absorbing, precisely observed, marvelous novel is the fumbling inadequacy of love, its inability to avert our terrible capacity to wound and maim, not even but especially, those nearest and dearest to us."

A starred review in Publishers Weekly called the book "an elegant variation on the parable of the prodigal son's return": "In giving an ancient drama of grace and perdition such a strong domestic setup, Robinson stakes a fierce claim to a divine recognition behind the rituals of home."

"Gilead," also won the Book Critics' Circle Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. Her first novel, "Housekeeping," was a Pulitzer finalist two decades ago, when it won the PEN/Hemingway Award. In the intervening years she wrote two nonfiction books, "Mother Country" and "The Death of Adam."

In 1998, Robinson was selected by the American Academy of Arts and Letters to receive a Strauss Living, a five-year stipend totaling a quarter of a million dollars that was established to enable writers to focus entirely on their work without requiring other employment. The UI responded in a manner that is astonishing by the standards of most institutions -- she was granted a five-year leave of absence.

But Robinson soon found that teaching had become an essential part of her life. After only 18 months on leave, she turned down the remainder of the stipend to return to the workshop.

The Writers' Workshop is a graduate program in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Jan Weissmiller, Prairie Lights,, 319-337-2681; Winston Barclay, Arts Center Relations, 319-384-0073,